A dissatisfied ranch hand becomes a bounty hunter. He conspires with a crooked town boss to dirty up a neighboring village where a valuable railroad franchise is headed, in order to divert ... See full summary »
During the Civil War, a Confederate spy takes a job as marshal of a small western town as a cover for his espionage activities. However, he soon finds out that a local businessman is ... See full summary »
"Stage to Thunder Rock" was the second A.C. Lyles B-Western, shot in the fall of 1963 back to back with the first, "Law of the Lawless," with a three month gap between the two releases. Only four cast members returned (Lon Chaney, John Agar, Laurel Goodwin, Roy Jenson), with Barry Sullivan heading this one as Sheriff Horne, who must bring in the outlaw Sawyer brothers who robbed the local bank of $50,000, without reckoning that the untrusting townsmen would hire to do the same a professional bounty hunter (Scott Brady), due to the lawman's close relationship to the Sawyers. Horne dutifully recovers the money and kills Toby Sawyer (Wayne Peters) in a brief shootout, taking as his prisoner Reese Sawyer (Ralph Taeger), who persistently taunts his former childhood friend that his father Ross Sawyer (Keenan Wynn) will eventually catch up with them and kill the sheriff. All of the characters congregate at the way station run by Henry Parker (Lon Chaney) and wife Myra (Anne Seymour), who fear that they will soon lose the station unless they can raise enough money for back taxes. $50,000 provides a great incentive for skullduggery during the night, with Sheriff Horne refusing to allow anyone to deter him from his duty, keeping a watchful eye out until the inevitable showdown with the pursuing Ross Sawyer. It's quite a soap opera rather than horse opera, but the strong cast rises to the occasion, except for Marilyn Maxwell, improbably cast as Lon Chaney's eldest daughter, a high priced floozy whose tawdry reputation seems to be common knowledge (she looks older than her screen mother!). Laurel Goodwin (STAR TREK's "The Cage") scores as the Parkers' restless younger daughter (a good 22 years younger than Marilyn), and Ralph Taeger, star of such short-lived TV series as ACAPULCO, KLONDIKE, and HONDO, is thoroughly convincing as a cowardly villain. Keenan Wynn has very little screen time, unfortunately, and veterans John Agar, Allan Jones, Robert Strauss, Robert Lowery, Paul E. Burns, and Roy Jenson also get little chance to contribute in their brief appearances. Barry Sullivan's role is also sadly routine, leaving the always reliable Lon Chaney to walk off with the entire film, his Henry Parker shown to be a poor businessman, his wife and daughter both eager to pack up and leave, never standing up to his domineering spouse out of love for her; but when push comes to shove, he lashes out in powerful fashion, successfully keeping his family intact. It's an undeniable gem among his increasingly scarce 60s output, here reunited with Ralph Taeger, from the 1961 KLONDIKE episode "The Hostages."
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