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Lee J. Cobb
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Claude Jarman Jr.
Set during the Pacific War against the Japanese, this WW2 drama discerns between achieving one's mission at any cost versus preserving the lives under one's command and enforcing discipline through fear as opposed to mutual respect.
Abnormal western with unusual characters, point of view
This movie seems to have fallen through the cracks, in the sense that, of all the conventional westerns made around that time, this isn't one of them, and nobody seems to have found anything much to say about it.
It's supposedly a remake of "The Sea Wolf" (I haven't seen that) from the same source novel by Jack London.
A fairly evil joker (played by Raymond Massey) runs a gold mine like it's the prison work camp from "Cool Hand Luke". But there's no slow-burning, cool-talkin' anti-heroes here - Massey is the most dynamic character in the film, most of the men in his charge are a dim mob, and everybody is flawed in one way or another.
One man comes to town looking like the hero, but he's on the run from prison, not notably moral or likeable, and he gets beaten to a pulp by either the major heel, or the minor ones, on a regular basis throughout the picture.
There's a disgraced former judge who Massey keeps around apparently for personal amusement, who talks of faith and morals, but is a slave to the bottle.
And there's a well-spoken nosey gent, who also talks a good game but has a bad leg, and is even victimised by the comedy relief. The comedy relief, by the way, isn't funny, but is one of the more memorably slimy characterisations to turn up in a Western before the spaghetti westerns of a later period. Even the female love interest is on the run from prison.
Weird movie, due to the unusual perspective in which the most hateful character in the flick is also presented as clearly the most interesting, dynamic, and in some ways, admirable character.
"Barricade" is probably worth more attention than it's had, for all its flaws, including some weak acting among the featured characters, and some of the more memorably lousy fight scenes in Hollywood history.
Never really heard of director Peter Godfrey before, and his CV doesn't really include anything that would pointer you towards this, let alone what to expect out of "Barricade". If it comes up on TV, and you're not violently allergic to westerns, you might want to give it a look.
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