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Behind a narration in the style of Jack Webb on TV's "Dragnet", U.S. Marshal Sam Nelson, posing as Sam Smith, is sent to a gold-boom town in California to learn the identity of three killers. Posing as a gunman and killer, he soon strikes up a friendship with card-sharp Alf Billings after saving him from being lynched when caught cheating in a card game. Billings suggests they become partners as his skill with cards (overlooking the near lynching he just escaped) and Sam's ability with guns should make them a fortune. Sam agrees, hoping that Billings will lead him to the men he is hunting. Billings leads him to Coldwater sheriff William Norris and Ernie Walker, Norris's partner in a saloon and gambling operation, both implicated in the murder case Sam is investigating. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Forty-Niners is directed by Thomas Carr and written by Dan Ullman. It stars Wild Bill Elliott, Harry Morgan, Virginia Grey, John Doucette and Lane Bradford. Music is by Raoul Kraushaar and cinematography by Ernest Miller.
1849. There was gold in California. According to the Eastern newspapers the mountains and streams were full of it. People from all over the country came here by the thousands, and were called The Forty Niners. Some of them worked hard for their golden dreams - - others robbed, plundered and killed for the gold. The entire burden of law enforcement had to be done by a handful of men - - the few United States Marshals the Federal Government could spare to protect its citizens
Wild Bill Elliott goes under cover to find out the identity of some dastard killers in this pleasant mystery based black and white Oater. Backed by an Elliot voice narration throughout, it's obvious that Carr and Ullman are firmly tuning into a Dragnet for the Western crowd vibe, and it actually works. With Elliott proving to be a likable lead man and Morgan enjoying himself as a shifty card cheat and blackmailer, the material on the page is delivered with entertaining gravitas. The pace is brisk, the action plenty and there's enough twists in Ullman's screenplay to keep you guessing. Yes for sure the ending is never in doubt, this is classic "B" Western territory after all, but a good time to be had here for the discerning Western fan. 6.5/10
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