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Blaise Starrett is a rancher at odds with homesteaders when outlaws hold up the small town. The outlaws are held in check only by their notorious leader, but he is diagnosed with a fatal wound and the town is a powder keg waiting to blow.
On the cheesy, moralistic front, there's Richard Fleischer's These Thousand Hills, an almost-grown up oater with Don Murray, Lee Remick, Richard Egan, and Stuart Whitman.
Murray is a young cowpuncher who wants to hit it big ranching in Montana. Unfortunately he's too damned handsome and Wonder Bready for my tastes and he gets started growing awfully big for his britches, especially after he borrows stake money from the only prostitute in town who doesn't look like a 50s movie tramp (that's the always luminescent Remick we're talking about here). Murray proceeds to torque off or become a political pawn to just about everyone in town.
Except the reptilian Egan, an actor I love to watch because he oozes a sort of John Huston in Chinatown vibe. I guess he doesn't like Murray because he sees a shred of good in him.
Anyway, you'll notice just how nearly raunchy the plot is. Murray and Remick have s-x, and it's really obvious because he looks happy, gazing off at the wallpaper and she brushes her hair, staring off at how many brushes she's up to. There's talk of tramps, political chicanery, somebody getting a bullet through his face, and after Murray grows a pair but before he settles a score with Egan, we dopes in the audience are reminded--using reverse-psychology--that the establishment's morality is pretty-well fubar.
Almost, almost edgy stuff there.
Remember, 1959 wasn't that long before the end of the Production Code, and Hoary-wood was experimenting with heroes that weren't squeaky-clean. It was interesting watching how immoral our hero becomes before he pulls his head out. I can just see Joe and Jane Suburbia, going with the kiddies to the movies, and walking out in a kerfluff over how dirty These Thousand Hills was. I personally thought it was quaint, cheesy, and morality-wins-uber-alles, which, believe it or not, made this reject from the Lifetime Movie Network actually satisfying.
Plus, the scenery was pretty and Remick, with a split lip and blackened eyes (guess who did that to her, folks!) is still breathtaking.
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