Wrangler Clay Phillips and his younger brother Steve are taking horses to their ranch near Sonora when they come across four dance hall girls heading the same way with a wrecked buggy. One ...
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Wrangler Clay Phillips and his younger brother Steve are taking horses to their ranch near Sonora when they come across four dance hall girls heading the same way with a wrecked buggy. One of the girls is taken away by a boyfriend who came after her. Clay takes the girls on to the nearest ranch, where it turns out one of the girls is the homesteaders' wayward daughter. As Clay already has an escaped killer and his two fellow convicts after him he is reluctant to have to take the remaining two girls on with him but they are set on getting to Sonora.Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
Fine actors, femme western, ingenious plot, careful direction
Gloria Grahame is Roughshod's major attraction, but bonuses are Jeff Corey in a small role, John Ireland as a lean young killer, and Claude Jarman Jr. carrying as serious a teenage role as a western may offer. Robert Sterling honestly manages the male lead. All the supporting roles are a testament to the kind of dependable quality the studios were delivering in the mid-20th century.
The most pleasant surprise may be the number of women's roles--the four bar girls, each of whom has her own denouement, including the accidental reunion of one with her decently grieving parents. As other posters have noted, the movie handles such scenes with minimal sentimentality or chatter, so that the strong feminine presence operates within the proper western decorum.
As a student of plot, I felt continually (if mildly) impressed by the story's layers and crossings. The bad guys' journey interweaves with the good guys' journey, which involves driving 10 free horses and assuming responsibility for the bar girls who break down on their path. One genre hallmark of a western is the story's geography or landscape. The good guys take another trail to avoid the bad guys, which leads the brassiest of the saloon-girls to hitch up with a gold prospector. The only wince-factor is the dependence on Gloria Grahame's character's reckless driving, but when that results in some of her clothes spilling in the river, those clothes float downstream and signal to the bad guys where the good guys are.
A lot happens in about 90 minutes, but it's all a bit subdued like its male lead. Director Mark Robson worked with Orson Welles and Val Lewton, so the quality-floor is high throughout. The best visuals are the long shots through the landscape where the different parties see each other; otherwise the film's composition, in keeping with its feminine content, is tight, personal, and intimate. The final gunfight is modest but, again, honest in its way, like the whole movie.
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