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Murphy plays ex-lawman who must strap on the guns again to catch a former nemesis, McGavin, who happens to be the ex husband of Murphy's wife and father of the boy that believes he's Murphy's son. Written by
It was while filming this movie that Alan Hale Jr. got his casting call for Gilligan's Island (1964). He had to ride out of Zions National Park in St. George, Utah on horseback to the highway and hitchhike to Las Vegas to fly out to the interview. See more »
We were friends once, Sam. It's not easy to shoot an old friend.
Friend? That's a long way back, Logan. And I got one big advantage over you. You won't kill me unless you have to. I won't hesitate one second about killing you.
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Top Western with characters too realistic for modern audiences
This Western might be best described as a "motley posse" Western. The irony here is that Audie Murphy's other famous posse Western, POSSE FROM HELL, probably sums up this posse just as well.
There are other similarities. Both posses are filled with very credible characters. The big difference here is Audie's character. In POSSE FROM HELL he played more of a Hollywood cliché, another of those rebels without a cause sorts who are angry for exactly no reason.
Here, he plays a more believable character, a mature man more in tune with the realities of the old West. Purists may grumble about the lack of dust and sweat on these colorful props and clothes, but there are two chief reasons for this spectacular style of cinematography. First, is it's artistic, of course. Secondly, and what we see is a problem later in the "dust and dirt" Westerns, is there is less confusion. The film is supposed to tell a story. With the vivid spectacle, we know what is going on. The trouble with showing what the characters see is that we don't know what is going on. Okay, the dork who pauses and magnifies each frame, he knows, but sane, mature people will refuse to do this.
The characters make this a superior Western, no doubt about it. Murphy is a "stepfather" whose son doesn't know his real father is not only an escaped convicted killer, but that he was once a Texas Ranger along with the stepfather.
The relationships and dialog concerning the family could still be used today. In fact, I've seen real father-wife-stepfather-child dialogs today that are almost identical to the lines in the film, from people who have never heard of Audie Murphy, much less seen the film. The directing and writing here, certainly of characters, is as full of insight as you will find.
That shouldn't surprise you, that a film from over half a century ago would have more insight. Hollywood really lost the "insight" and "character" with the seventies mainstream. These older films not only had writers who had to live more mature lives, but also had to appeal to more mature audiences than the later cubicle dwellers.
The subtle differences between the posse members also deserves note. The skipper plays the lawman of the group, and is much more like a real town lawman than people today would think, full of fear and desperation. The "chief" of Control plays a very realistic honest member of the posse. The two town tough guys, bouncers in the saloon, are shown to have their different personalities. One is pure evil, but the other has some "manly" qualities, refusing to kill the woman for thousands of tax free dollars. The old grizzled veteran reveals multiple dimensions about himself, but most notably his demonic side, a side which we see mostly in the characters we could almost respect otherwise, as he lightly discards the squaws he butchered.
Audie's nemesis begins the film with a demonic act, in fact. We never forget what he is, and that there is an evil in him that isn't in those of us who aren't psychopaths. No doubt, some of the IMDb bubble boys and beavis types, will think he's "cool", but to people who deal with reality on a more usual basis, Audie's character will be the one who looks "cool".
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