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Claude Jarman Jr.
Notoriuos liar Bill Barker, having been banished westward by the law, talks the townspeople of Martinez into making him Mayor and Judge. Here he has to deal with the outlaw the Tonto Kid, the troublesome McQuinn Brothers, and look after his daughter Nita Mosby who thinks her father is dead.Written by
Maurice VanAuken <email@example.com>
Well, Fellini didn't direct this one, but at times it sure seems like it. This is one odd-ball movie, with plotlines that appear out of nowhere and disappear into the same place, character motivations David Lynch couldn't understand, and behavior that sometimes suggests that everyone in the film and everyone who made it was hitting the peyote a little too hard. Harry Carey well plays Bill Barker, and one presumes he is the hero of the piece, though he gets enough undisputed disrespect from respectable characters that sometimes it's hard to know whether he's the moral center or just a none-too-bright gasbag. Tim Holt is good as the Tonto Kid, but everyone else is either not very good or is just mired so deep in the confusion that it's not possible to distinguish their talent. It's almost impossible to disentangle the plotlines, although it's fairly clear that one of them involves Barker's attempts to make a good life for the daughter he never knew. The rest of it is pretty much a jumble, and the confrontations between Barker and the McQuinn gang, and in particular a bizarre game of Russian roulette between Barker and the Tonto Kid simply defy rational explanation. And what in the world was Ward Bond doing in this--not WHY was he in it, but WHAT was he doing? He appears to be channelling his John L. Sullivan character from "Gentleman Jim," funnelled through Pancho Villa. But the purpose and intent of the character are just two of the manifold mysteries of this weird little melange. Just about the strangest thing I've ever seen that wasn't meant to be strange.
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