A boy haunted by nightmares about the night his entire family was murdered is brought up by a neighboring family in the 1880s. He falls for his lovely adoptive sister but his nasty adoptive brother and mysterious uncle want him dead.
After his family is murdered in the 1880s, orphan Jeb Rand (Robert Mitchum) is raised by the Callum family on their nearby horse ranch. He remains haunted by this childhood trauma in a recurring nightmare of flashing spurs and confinement inside a trap door as his family is slaughtered. Widow Callum (Dame Judith Anderson) does her best to make Jeb feel loved as he is growing up, but the young man stubbornly maintains a sense of his own identity. While he has great affection for his foster-sister Thor (Teresa Wright), his relationship with her brother Adam (John Rodney) is tenuous at best, especially when Jeb blames him for shooting a colt that he was riding. Although Mrs. Callum blames the incident on deer hunters, she is aware that the it was actually the attempted murder of the youngster by her brother-in-law Grant (Dean Jagger), a shadowy figure who, for vague reasons, is determined to harm Jeb. Jeb loses a coin flip with Adam, and becomes the designated family volunteer to fight ...Written by
After Adam is shot, a dummy is used to show his body rolling down the hill. The incline is not great and a stuntman could easily have been used, so the obvious dummy is a jarring note. See more »
One day I rode up in the butte country...
[Approaching the burned out shell of a cabin]
Came straight to this place just like I'd known the way. There was something in my life that ruined that house. That house was myself.
[Entering the charred remains]
I'd seen it a million times before... the fireplace... the trap door...
[Walking outside again]
Out back there was some cattle bones. All of a sudden I couldn't breathe, and then as I walked around the side, I came upon some unmarked graves...
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This movie neither succeeds as a film noir nor a western. The story is sporadic and doesn't have any drive -- it didn't make me want to keep watching after I was well into it. The acting is hammy and stagy. The characterizations are not consistent throughout the movie -- it's like any character can change his or her mindset at any time. The big "secret" that is revealed at the end was easily guessed a long time before the big revelation. James Wong Howe's photography is the only redeeming factor in this oater. I was truly disappointed after reading so many good reviews on this web page. Oh well, I guess I can trade this at the used DVD store for films that show Robert Mitchum, Teresa Wright and Dame Judith Anderson in better roles. If you like film noir and these stars, I highly recommend Night of the Hunter - 1955 (Mitchum), The Little Foxes - 1941 (Wright), and Rebecca - 1940 (Anderson).
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