In Tomahawk, the crooked Jackman brothers control the town, Sheriff Dunham is up for re-election, the sheep growers are banned in town and a stagecoach line undercover investigator arrives to catch the gang that regularly robs the stages.
Kent Taggart's family, with their cattle stampeded, are killed by those who started it. In a fair gunfight, he kills the man's son responsible for it all and when he runs, a warrant is issued and a price put on his head.
A woman and two children are kidnapped by Apaches. The husband of the captured woman enlists the help of his neighbor to find the Apaches that seized his family; not knowing his neighbor has unknown reasons of his own for helping him.
Released from prison after 18 years, notorious gunslinger 'Killer' Cain is a peaceful reformed man but the Old West has died and he cannot adapt to the modern West where some unpaid moral debts and old troubles resurface.
It's the last day on the job for Marshal Morg Rocklin who plans to get married. The new Marshal is due in town the next day. Unfortunately, a bunch of troublemakers are in town. Among them is rancher Joshua McCloud's no-good son who's bringing in a herd of cattle for sale. Immature, spoiled and quick tempered, the McCloud boy gets into an argument with his cowhands in the saloon and shoots one dead. The Marshal tries to arrest McCloud's son who draws on the lawman and gets killed. Postponing his wedding, the Marshal rides out to break the sad news to old rancher McCloud who has recently taken a young gold-digger wife. The old man drinks too much lately. The Marshal fears the worst for his meeting with the old rancher who doesn't yet know that his son was killed. To make matters worse, Bart Thorne, the McClouds' head ranch boss hates the Marshal and wants him dead. Written by
[Thorne refuses to come to Kate's aid when Apaches decide to abduct her]
I guess this is goodbye, honey.
You can't! You can't!
It's either you or me and you got no vote.
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It's not THAT awful. There were a few points of interest here.
Yeah the protagonist is virtually un-flawed, and he's played woodenly by Jeff Young. But Dan Duryea livens up the proceedings, as a slimy, womanizing, snake-oil salesman of an ex-con ranch foreman.
One of the supporting roles, that of the doctor who is forced to surgically disable the hero's gun hand, is given to a black actor, in a choice that was unusual for the time. The only character that even seems to notice he's black is the hero, and clearly it's supposed to further illustrate what a good guy he is, that he's unprejudiced. Yeah whatever.
Two, count 'em two quasi-rape scenes leave a nasty taste in the mouth. There's very little artistry to either, just ugliness. The Good Girl survives hers unscathed, the Bad Girl's ends with her death. The scene where Duryea hands her over to hostile Indians and stands by without doing a thing for her is chilling; if there was any doubt that his character was going to die by the end of the picture, it goes out the window here. You KNOW he's gonna pay for being that callous.
The climactic shootout scene is filmed at night, in and around a saloon with the lights blown out. This is the most visually interesting part of the film, with complex compositions of light and shadow. Nicely done in a noir-ish way.
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