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When John Goodnight was a boy he watched in the weeds as his entire family was killed in a ruthless outlaw attack. Now as a circuit judge of the western territories Goodnight travels the west protecting the innocent from injustice.
A escaped prisoner kills the wife and son of a former sheriff, Matt Austin, who sent him to jail long ago. Austin rides in pursuit and locates his quarry in a small town saloon. During the ensuing gunfight, an innocent bystander is shot and the murderer escapes. As a penance, the ex-lawman agrees to help the dead rancher's wife fend off a land baron's attempt to steal her property for its valuable water rights. Written by
A classic western plot -- a bad guy wants to grab off a small landowner's land and only a laconic wanderer can save the pretty ranch owner -- having killed her man by accident -- runs along in its well-greased way. Luke Perry is fine as the scruffy, squinty, hoarse hero. Jaclyn DeSantis is good as the woman he tries to help and while there are few surprises in this one, it plays nicely to the strengths of the classic western, including some fine camera work by James Wrenn.
It is the old-fashioned camera work that is most notable about this picture, and the color choices that hearken back to silent days, with blue tints for night scenes, an overall sepia wash to the day scenes and an amber touch to the interiors. There are lingering shots when people are riding horses, giving a leisurely but inevitable air to the entire proceedings. A very pleasant TV movie.
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