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Best of the Badmen (1951)

Approved | | Western | 1951 (UK)
The outlaws of the Clanton and Younger gangs are the heroes of this fictionalized biography.


William D. Russell


Robert Hardy Andrews (screenplay), John Twist (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Robert Ryan ... Jeff Clanton
Claire Trevor ... Lily
Jack Buetel ... Bob Younger
Robert Preston ... Matthew Fowler
Walter Brennan ... 'Doc' Butcher
Bruce Cabot ... Cole Younger
John Archer ... Curley Ringo
Lawrence Tierney ... Jesse James
Barton MacLane ... Joad
Tom Tyler ... Frank James
Robert J. Wilke ... Jim Younger (as Bob Wilke)
John Cliff ... John Younger
Lee MacGregor Lee MacGregor ... Lieutenant
Emmett Lynn ... Oscar
Carleton Young ... Wilson


After the Civil War, Union Major Clanton captures survivors of Quantrill's Raiders, and gets them clemency at the cost of shooting a mob member. Convicted of murder by a kangaroo court, Clanton escapes and joins the former raiders in a gang devoted to robbing everything protected by the corrupt detective agency of his enemy Fowler; culminating in a personal showdown. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Here they come!




Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Throughout the first half of the film, Clanton is seen sliding down hills, crawling on the ground and riding horses that are kicking up dust, yet during the close-ups, his Union uniform is always clean and crisp. See more »


Jeff Clanton: Horse thief! You'll get life!
Doc Butcher: Major, I collect bridles for souvenirs. And on the end of one, I was plumb surprised to find a horse!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: "This story tells a forgotten chapter in the violent history of the West. Months after the tragic war between the States had ended there was still no peace on the Western Frontier." See more »


Follows Badman's Territory (1946) See more »

User Reviews

Robert Ryan and the Quantrill Raiders
6 June 2016 | by RanchoTuVuSee all my reviews

Jeff Clanton (Robert Ryan) a major in the Union army, captures the remnants of the Quantrill Raiders which include the James brothers as well as the Youngers. Clanton is disposed to let them all go if they take an oath of allegiance, but Mathew Fowler (Robert Preston), the head of the Fowler Detective Agency, a private law enforcement outfit that protects the moneyed interests, has his eyes set on the impressive rewards each of the "badmen" has accrued, setting up what looks to be a pretty good story when Ryan is arrested and faces hanging. He sides with the "badmen" against Fowler, who seems to represent the emerging new order. Claire Trevor, who is supposed to be a saloon girl, is actually married to Fowler, but falls for Clanton. Her character makes zero sense and the movie makes less and less sense as it goes along, a disturbing trend which even the great Robert Preston can't turn around, though he's always worth watching.

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Release Date:

1951 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Best of the Badmen See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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