In El Paso, lawyer and ex-Confederate captain Clay Fletcher forms a vigilante group to bring law and order to a town where the judge is a drunk, the sheriff is corrupt and the town is run by a crooked landowner.
Army deserter Bart Laish decides that the best way for him to get away is to join a wagon train headed for Oregon. They're about a week ahead of him and on the trail Bart comes across an old friend, Major Andy Pepperis who is dying from wounds received in an Indian attack. He warns Bart that the Indians will next attack the wagon train and afterward finds the army station, Camp Taylor, destroyed. He assumes Pepperis' identity and catches up to the wagon train taking command of the soldiers escorting it. He proves to be a capable leader and quickly gains everyone's respect. As they get closer to their destination, Bart is closer to being caught and has to decide if and when he will leave them.Written by
This was Allied Artists first movie to used a 1.85 aspect ratio. All previous widescreen product by Allied Artists was composed for 1.66. See more »
Towards the end of the movie, Crowshaw goes to deal with a wagon. Meanwhile, Laish orders the men to fall back to the rocks. Crowshaw is seen in two shots among the crowd falling back, but the next shot has him still with the wagon. See more »
It's clearly common knowledge out here that most Indians do not like to fight at night. An Indian killed at night, they believe, wanders forever in darkness.
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Arrow in the Dust is directed by Lesley Selander and adapted to screenplay by Don Martin from the L. L. Foreman novel. It stars Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, Keith Larson, Tom Tully and Tudour Owen. Music is by Marlin Skiles and Technicolor cinematography by Ells W. Carter.
Bart Laish (Hayden) is an army deserter, a gambler and a killer, but soon he is going to get a shot at redemption...
It's all very formulaic in plotting, yet there's some thought gone into the screenplay, whilst Selander wastes no chances to keep things brisk by inserting another finely constructed action sequence. Laish (a typically robust Hayden) finds himself in command of a wagon train, with soldiers and civilians, all now looking to him to stave off the wave after wave of Indian attacks, which interestingly sees the Pawnee and the Apache teaming up.
Naturally there's trouble in the camp, not only via some suspicious business men whose motives will reveal a key narrative thrust, but also by way of Gray's Christella Burke. She wanders in from some Estée Lauder advertisement (we don't care, we love 50s Westerns!), and pulses quicken for protagonist and viewers alike. Thematically the narrative is honourable, with decent amounts of angst and tortured heroics. There's some nifty war tactics, plenty of splendid gun play, and of course there's a human redemptive beat pulsing away - just begging to be found?
There's the usual "B" Western issues, such as weakly choreographed fighting between man versus man, dummies being flung over cliffs, and some average acting in support slots (not Lee Van Cleef, though, who is pottering around with menace). However, the Burro Flats location filming is beautifully photographed - in sync with Skiles' genre compliant score, while Hayden does enjoyable stern backed machismo, which plays off of Gray's sensuality perfectly, and Tully does grizzle to actually provide the film's best performance.
One for fans of this era of Western genre film making. Not a waste of time. Good show. 6.5/10
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