When part of Oklahoma Territory becomes officially part of the U.S., Vance Cordrell is forced to deal with some of the most infamous outlaws of the Old West.


Ray Enright


Charles O'Neal (screenplay), Jack Natteford (screenplay) | 3 more credits »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Randolph Scott ... Vance Cordell
Robert Ryan ... Sundance Kid
Anne Jeffreys ... Jeannie 'Cheyenne' McBride
George 'Gabby' Hayes ... John J. Pettit
Jacqueline White ... Madge Allen
Steve Brodie ... Cole Younger
Tom Keene ... Jim Younger (as Richard Powers)
Robert Bray ... John Younger
Lex Barker ... Emmett Dalton
Walter Reed ... Bob Dalton
Michael Harvey ... Grat Dalton
Dean White Dean White ... Billy the Kid
Robert Armstrong ... Wild Bill Doolin
Tom Tyler ... Wild Bill Yeager
Lew Harvey ... Arkansas Kid


When part of Indian Territory is incorporated into the United States, good-natured rancher Vance Cordell reluctantly accepts the badge of federal marshal when a flood of notorious outlaws views the new area as ripe for banditry. Included are the Dalton and Younger Gangs, Billy the Kid, and the Sundance Kid led by the notorious Wild Bill Doolin. Cordell has a personal stake in his campaign to eradicate the bad men because of a friend's murder and the robbery of the local bank owned by his future father-in-law. Written by duke1029@aol.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

shaving | See All (1) »


PLUNDERING ARMY OF BADMEN! They Tried To Turn Oklahoma Into An Outlaw Empire! See more »


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Did You Know?


Although Tom Tyler would play Frank James in Badman's Territory (1946) and Best of the Badmen (1951) as well as another film, here he plays fictional outlaw Wild Bill Yeager. See more »


There are no lights in the saloon but strong shadows are cast and often in two directions. See more »


John Pettit: [as Vance is shaving] Hey!
Vance: Hmmm?
John Pettit: How long does it take to shave?
Vance: Oh, about 15 or 20 minutes. Why?
John Pettit: Lemme see now... 10 times 20 is...
John Pettit: Why that's over 2 hours a week times 52...
John Pettit: You realize you lose four full days out of your life every yesr just shavin' your whiskers off?
Vance: Is that why you've got a beard?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: These outlaws, famed in the history of the west, are riding to new riches and plunder -- the Oklahoma of 1889. A whole new territory was about to spring up overnight.

Ranchers, cattlemen, even whole towns -- their land bought by the government -- had been given thirty days to move elsewhere. Land hungry pioneers were gathering for the race for free land. And behind them, waiting and ready for this rich prey, came the outlaws. See more »


Features Cimarron (1931) See more »

User Reviews

You're the most unethical, ornery bandits I ever done business with.
30 May 2012 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

Return of the Badmen is directed by Ray Enright and co-written by Charles O'Neal, Jack Natteford and Luci Ward. It stars Randolph Scott, Robert Ryan, Anne Jeffreys, George Hayes and Jacqueline White. Music is by Paul Sawtell and cinematography by J. Roy Hunt.

Braxton, Oklahoma Territory, 1889, soon to be a ghost town as the impending land rush changes the West. With that comes more than just settlers, it brings outlaws too, some of the meanest there is. Under the leadership of Wild Bill Doolin has gathered the Sundance Kid, the Younger Brothers, the Daltons, Wild Bill Yeager, Billy The Kid, George Mason, the Arkansas Kid and Doolin's niece Cheyenne. Standing in their way? Vance Cordell, retired Texas Ranger, soon to become temporary marshal of newly formed Guthrie Town, and a man with a score to settle with the Sundance Kid.

Premise is simple, RKO, flush with the success of Badman's Territory the previous year, decide that more is best in this second instalment of the studio's "Badmen" trilogy (Best of the Badmen followed in 1951). They pitch some of the Wild West's baddest apples together and play them off against that bastion of stoic cowboyness, Randolph Scott. As a basic Western movie it works, film is always engaging, has a good action quota, is technically safe from the camera side of things and is driven by a pot boiling destiny showdown between Scott and Ryan. Trouble is is that so many notorious characters in one mix means the film has no chance of living up to its promise. Which in a running time of 90 minutes was always going to be impossible to achieve anyway, especially when you also have the inevitable romantic angle involving our hero, another character thread involving reform and the backdrop of the land rush as well.

Thankfully the film finds Scott and Ryan more than capable of sealing the deal, lifting the picture above the routine plotting and unrealistic nature of the set-up. It's good versus evil, where Scott's Cordell is the man in light, the man of the people, and Ryan's Sundance is the man in dark, a twitchy cold blooded psycho. Yes, there's the inevitability factor of it all, we know who is going to triumph here, but the build up is well handled and it does provide a very brisk and punch laden finale. There's nothing irritable in cast performances across the board, yes we want more from the roll call of actors playing under written villains, but story, as fantastical as it is, never sags and entertains from first minute to last. There's worse ways for Western fans to spend an hour and half, that's for sure! 6.5/10

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Release Date:

17 July 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Return of the Bad Men See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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