Vinnie Holt, a single woman travelling with her toddler niece, becomes stranded at Rawhide, a desert stagecoach stop managed by stationmaster Sam Todd and his assistant Tom Owens. Owens is quickly impressed by Vinnie's independent self-confidence. Jim Zimmerman, a fugitive murderer from Huntsville Prison disguised as a Deputy, and three other ruthless escapees take over the station, intent on robbing the next day's gold shipment. After murdering Sam, Zimmerman knows they must keep Tom alive in order to complete their plans. Owens does not correct Zimmmerman's assumption that Vinnie is his wife, correctly sensing that the misconception might be the key to her survival as well.Written by
In the film Rawhide things start out like any other day for Tyrone Power who plays the son of the stage line owner spending some time at one of the way stations learning the business from grizzled old timer Edgar Buchanan. A stage stops by and Susan Hayward and toddler are among the passengers.
But when a passing cavalry patrol brings news of a crashout by four very desperate criminals, one of whom was scheduled to be hung the next day, the driver decides he's not taking Sue and the little girl if there's going to be trouble. Even with a cavalry escort which you would think would have been enough to discourage any outlaws from robbing the stage. Sue stays at the station until word of capture or a stage going in another direction arrives.
The four outlaws do arrive and they are four really lousy specimens of humanity. Led by Hugh Marlowe the candidate for the rope, the others include Jack Elam, George Tobias, and Dean Jagger. They kill Buchanan and stay at the station hoping to holdup a stage carrying a gold shipment.
Marlowe is light years away from the nice guy playwright in All About Eve. You can hardly believe this is the same actor. But the guy making his first real mark in the cinema is Jack Elam. One of the most psychotic villains ever put on screen, Elam makes full use of his blind eye for some incredible facial expressions. His unconcealed lust for Hayward is driving Marlowe to his wits end who needs Power alive at least until the robbery is done.
Tyrone Power was 37 when he made Rawhide, a bit too old for the part he was playing, still he does a good job. This is a remake of an earlier 20th Century Fox film Show Them No Mercy which had a modern setting and the Power and Hayward roles were played by Rochelle Hudson and Edward Norris who were barely in their twenties.
But it's the outlaws here who really make this film. As Marlowe is quick to comment this isn't a crew he'd pick, they just happened to be around when he made his break and they went along for the ride. Tobias and Jagger play a pair of amiable duds, Marlowe is bitter and angry, but Elam is psychotic.
Henry Hathaway got good performances in this suspense filled western. Of the outlaws the idiot Jagger in the end has the most sense. See the film to know what I'm talking about.
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