A Lawless Street (1955) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
24 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Worthwhile Western
Eric Chapman15 July 2001
Sort of an early "Unforgiven" in some ways. Also similar to director Lewis' "Terror in a Texas Town" though thankfully not as goofy or campy. You get a real sense of the wild west slowly being tamed, of it making the uneasy transition from a violent, lawless land to a reasonably civilized place where law and order stand a chance. I liked Randolph Scott's metaphor for the town, that it's like a wild animal that keeps getting kicked, and sooner or later it's going to do more than just snarl and growl miserably; it's going to bite back.

Scott makes a good, twinkle-eyed loner hero and Angela Lansbury is quite attractive as his leggy showgirl love interest, (though she would begin playing mothers of grown children just a few years later) but their romance is rather obligatory and uninspired. Both the villains are effective, Warner Anderson as the unscrupulous (what else?)womanizing businessman and Michael Pate as the sinister gloved gunman (Lewis seems to have a thing about gunman wearing gloves). Anderson's line deliveries are extremely flat and matter of fact, which just makes him that much more detestable somehow. He's like a greed machine, no heart, no emotion whatsoever.

At first glance this may seem like no more than just another passable western, but it's got some meat on its bones. And Lewis really shines when it comes to building the suspense leading up to the inevitable bar room showdown between the bad guy and the good.
23 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
weird western
RanchoTuVu21 February 2005
A town is at the crossroads between law and order and its commercial interests, saloon owner Cody Clarke (John Emery) and mayor Hamer Thorne (Warner Anderson) choose the latter in order to maintain the surging saloon business. In order to achieve their goal they have to get rid of the competent marshal played by Randolph Scott, and hire a gunman (Michael Pate) to take care of him. Scott is wounded and widely believed to have been killed, but comes back to settle scores, while his ex-wife (Angela Lansbury) who is now a singer and dancer in a burlesque company comes into town and does a quite revealing song and dance number. Directed by B film genius Joseph H. Lewis, the film has originality, style, and quite an interesting premise, though the opportunities slip by.
16 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
dougdoepke13 January 2012
No need to repeat the plot since it's a pretty standard one. Considering the talent involved, the results are more than a little disappointing. I agree with other critics—Scott looks tired and less motivated than his usual self. Plus, the unlikely pairing of him with an actress 30- years younger (Lansbury) only accentuates the problem.

It's also a talky indoor western, perhaps to accommodate the many veteran actors in the cast, with only Donnelly (old Molly) showing any real spark. Those many speaking parts also make for an unwieldy storyline. And for some reason, cult director Lewis shows little engagement as the rather flat performances and impersonal climax demonstrate.

Not everything is downside. Don Megowan's hulking gun-hater comes across as an interesting character, certainly no stereotype, in a role that should have been bigger. There're also a couple of unexpected twists that help spark interest. But, the overall results remain uneven, at best. Good thing for western fans that Scott soon hooked up with Buddy Boetticher and Ranown, a combo that knew how to get the most out of the aging actor in a series of memorable classics. But despite the presence here of Ranown's producer Harry Joe Brown, this is not one of them.
8 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Randolph Scott meets Jessica Fletcher
bkoganbing21 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Randolph Scott is the town marshal like Gary Cooper in High Noon. Only instead of four guys coming to town to kill the marshal because of an old grudge, here we have a trio of villains, Warner Anderson, John Emery, and Michael Pate. The first two have been hiring folks to do in Scott because they want a wide open and lawless town for the saloon business. They've finally settled on Pate who does beat Scott to the draw and folks think he's been killed.

Warner Anderson is a particularly smarmy villain. He's got designs on Angela Lansbury who's a touring musical performer in town for a few performances. He's also been romancing the wife of the biggest rancher in the area played by Jean Parker and he says openly that it was only for his own amusement. That remark costs him dear in the movie later on.

Scott has a particularly brutal fight scene with Don Megowan who's the brother of a man Scott kills in the first 15 minutes of the film. Ranks up there with his classic brawls with John Wayne in The Spoilers and Pittsburgh.

I remember a Gunsmoke episode years ago where this particular plot line was used. Someone beats Matt Dillon to the draw and Doc Adams pretends he's dead and in the meantime works furiously to save his life. Here that role is taken by town doctor Wallace Ford. Both Randolph Scott and James Arness live to best the villain, but the story is how in both cases and I won't say more.

A good cast of veteran Hollywood performers makes A Lawless Street a pleasure to watch. And Angela Lansbury has a musical number. What's better than that?
13 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
A Man that Makes the Difference
Claudio Carvalho30 January 2010
In Medicine Bend, Marshal Calem Ware {Randolph Scott} is the man that brought law and order to the town, supported by the powerful rancher Asaph Dean (James Bell) and his reputation; his skill with his gun is frequently tested by gunners that unsuccessfully challenge him. When the greedy local businessman Hamer Thorne (Warner Anderson) brings the actress Tally Dickenson (Angela Lansbury) to perform a show for the locals, Calem is haunted by his past since Tally is his wife that left him in Apache Wells due to his dangerous way of life. Meanwhile Thorne associates to the scum Cody Clark (John Emery) and together they hire the outlaw Harley Baskam (Michael Pate) that is considered the fastest gunner in the region to duel with Calem and kill him and leave Medicine Bend ready for their dirty businesses.

"A Lawless Street" is a good western about a man that makes the difference in a small town. I am not a great fan of this genre, but I like a lot the elegant Randolph Scott, an actor that successfully performs the typical sheriff or cowboy in these movies. His characters have usually the same characteristics of a honest man with a past. Angela Lansbury is an actress that I used to see ad an old lady, and is it nice to see her with thirty year-old only. Michael Pate, Warner Anderson and John Emery perform great villains. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Obrigado a Matar" ("Forced to Kill")
10 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Ramshackle highlights
whitec-310 September 2009
Posters' reactions to A Lawless Street divide sharply between most who think it's a comfortable classic and a few who complain of its poor writing and flat acting. I'm a considerable Randolph Scott fan, and Angela Lansbury looks great in her tight period costumes, but there's little chemistry and their script doesn't help. The theme of civilizing the west is respectable, with the town as "beast" a fair metaphor, but aside from horses and drinking, the words don't become flesh as Columbia earns its rep as the cheap studio. The only interesting part of the writing is the names: Calem, Asaph, Harley. The score is strangely inappropriate, and the second half seems rushed compared to the building of character in the first half. The populous cast is of some talent and interest, but some characters look alike and appear after such long intervals that they're hard to tell apart. Still and all, Scott has the power of his generation to turn any part into his trademark character of integrity, and Angela seems like a visitor from another planet or studio.
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Funny how a man softens to another when once he's killed him.
Spikeopath26 January 2010
Marshal Calem Ware (Randolph Scott) is tired of Medicine Bend, tired of killing and tired of reprobates trying to kill him. He's also haunted by pain in his past. So when the past resurfaces and yet another scum-bag turns up to put out his light, Calem faces what he hopes will be the final day of reckoning.

Brought to us by the Scott/Brown production company, A Lawless Street is directed by Joseph H. Lewis, adapted from a Brad Ward story (Marshal of Medicine Bend) by Kenneth Gamet and features cinematography from Ray Rennahan at French Ranch - Hidden Valley Road, Thousand Oaks in California. Joining Scott in the cast are Angela Lansbury, Warner Anderson, Jean Parker & Wallace Ford.

This film came a year before Scott would do Seven Men From Now with Budd Boetticher, the start of which was a run of "adult" Westerns that showcased the best of both Scott and the Western of the 50s. So it's not unsurprising to find that "A Lawless Street" is some way short of the quality of the Boetticher/Scott movies. In fact, Scott may not just be in character for the film, he looks genuinely tired, which is in keeping with the very tired feel of it all.

It has proved to be a pretty divisive film amongst Western purists, the routine story not helped by the fact it has been done to perfection before in other, more notable genre pieces. While the script also lacks vim and vigour and Scott is surrounded by very average actors. The ending fizzles out after the promise of so much more, and in fact it's ponderously drawn out. Yet the first half of the film saves it from being a stinker, Lewis' camera-work is fluid and fist fight fans are served up a treat. And we even get Lansbury flexing her tonsils for a delightful little ditty.

So it's very much a film of two differing halves, one that sadly doesn't make for a satisfying whole. Much like Switzerland, I'm staying neutral with it, a 5/10 rating is given on proviso that it's noted that where Scott and Lewis are concerned, I'm unashamedly biased.
9 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
The right people make the law.
Michael O'Keefe23 January 2004
Classic western. A marshal(Randolph Scott)finds himself tired of taming the beast. A hired gunman(Michael Pate)is hired by businessmen(Warner Anderson and John Emery)to "take care of" the lawman so corruption can run the town. Plenty of action and strong supporting cast featuring: Jean Parker, Don Megowan, Wallace Ford and Angela Lansbury as the winsome showgirl. Pate as the gloved gunman practically steals the show. The stoic Scott proves why he has top billing.
13 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Very good cast elevates a routine western
Panamint27 September 2014
You might notice that Randolph Scott is trying very hard in this film and is committed to a good performance, and this is one of his best. He tried noticeably harder in movies that he produced (understandably) like this one versus the studio-contract films he endlessly tromped through for many years.

Scott, like many leading men, also noticeably worked well with respected superior actresses like Angela Lansbury here, as opposed to just random movie actresses and bimbos. Scott ups his game here and their scenes together are good.

Excellent supporting players are on hand including the avuncular Wallace Ford, perennially versatile and noted actor Michael Pate, and others. John Emery, almost unknown today but part of the Hollywood fabric for a long time, makes a too-rare Western villain appearance as a rotten saloon owner. Middle age and many years of sins are etched in Emery's face. He is perfect for this role. Some fans will undoubtedly remember Emery from the sci-fi classic "Kronos".

Angela Lansbury- what can I say but just note how she distinguishes and elevates this movie. You know what I mean- she's Angela Lansbury.

So the formula routine plotting and the clichés are uplifted in the end result of "A Lawless Street". I can recommend it for Western fans and for fans of the individual actors involved.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
More Routine than Anything Else
Robert J. Maxwell23 May 2004
The story is simplicity itself. Scott is the marshall keeping the town (referred to several times as a wild beast) peaceful despite the efforts of two corrupt businessmen to take it over and run it on their terms. They hire a gunman (Pate) to come in and knock off Scott. At about the same time Scott's showgirl wife (Lansbury) shows up. They've separated because she doesn't want him using guns to earn a living. Or something like that. (Where have we seen this before?) Pate shoots Scott, who recovers later and shoots Pate. The businessmen are subdued by the rest of the townspeople who have come to their senses and acquired ethics. Scott hands over his badge because the beast has been tamed and the town no longer needs his kind of marshall. He rides off into the sunset with his wife and a carriage full of luggage and mulligan stew. The end.

Angela Lansbury is a first-rate actress. She wows the audience in pieces as different as "The Manchurian Candidate," "Death on the Nile," and "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway. But she's given practically nothing to do here. Warner Anderson's acting is flat and matter-of-fact but he's okay. The other villainous businessmen are less than interesting, which is too bad because movies like this depend as much on the character of their heavies as they do on the star. Wally Ford is in the Thomas Mitchell/ Edgar Buchanan part. The movie's score blossoms during the overture to Lansbury's stage appearance. Elsewhere the score is overblown and sounds hastily assembled with comic notes where none are called for.

The second half of the movie deteriorates. I cannot imagine why the rich ranchers and the rest of the townspeople (the wild beasts) have a sudden and entirely unmotivated change of heart and rally to Scott's side. Also, Scott gets to beat hell out of a human being the size of Man Mountain Dean, without using a gun. The two men have a lengthy and brutal fistfight and wind up with their shirts torn to shreds but not a drop of blood is spilled. But the first third of the movie gives Scott some scenes and dialogue that are outstanding for him, considering his usual persona. He shoots a man in self defense and is, if not ashamed of having done it, at least remorseful. The victim's widow has some sensible and believable lines too, and not favorable to Scott. Scott doesn't go on about his sadness -- he never goes on about anything. But we can sense the writers and the director giving him a chance to play something more than a heroic marble statue. It would have been nice had the rest of the movie been so played.
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
A poor script sinks this Randolph Scott western. Even Angela Lansbury can't do much with the lines she's given
Terrell-417 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"This town is like a wild animal in chains, Molly," says Marshal Calem Ware to his landlady while she fries his bacon and eggs for breakfast. "It doesn't fight back right away. It just lies there and snarls, waiting for a chance to pounce on you."

"Be careful, Calem," is Molly's helpful advice.

A Lawless Street is the story of Calem Ware (Randolph Scott) and his determination to bring law and order to Medicine Bend. Unknown to Ware, there is a faction in town determined to run things wide open. Money -- big money -- is involved. This means Ware has to be taken care of. A hired killer with a draw as fast as Calem's might be the answer. Complicating matters for Ware is the arrival of Tally Dickerson (Angela Lansbury), a music hall singer engaged to play with her troupe at the town's new opera house. Nine years ago the two were man and wife, then Tally left him. They're still married. "I didn't know what it was like for a man to make his living with his gun," Tally tells Caleb when they meet again, "walking the streets a living target. I died a little more each day and I died more at night." Even Lansbury can't do much with lines like that.

The movie is packed with such poor writing that we don't believe a minute of it. The script is full of characters who tell each who they are and what motivates them, instead of demonstrating this. At frequent intervals an out-of-breath minor character rushes up to Caleb to announce another crisis is at hand. Thank goodness we have Scott's steadfastness to believe in and the smiling sleaziness of John Emery, playing one of the bad guys, to enjoy. The writing is so poor it makes even a fine actress like Angela Lansbury sound like someone from a daytime soap opera. We have Lansbury singing and dancing once, but I'd swear her singing was dubbed, a strange decision.

Although I thought the movie might be interesting with the odd duo of a 57-year-old Randolph Scott with the 30-year-old Angela Lansbury, the pairing seemed uncomfortable and unlikely. The film's modest pleasures come from a handful of long-time character actors, such as Wallace Ford, who died a memorable death in a steam room in Blood on the Sun, Ruth Donnelly, always good in many movies as the often irascible but good-hearted motherly type, and, of course, Emery. I always admired the way he tried to put the moves on Ingrid Bergman in Spellbound.
8 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Yet another very good Western from Randolph Scott.
MartinHafer20 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Randolph Scott made a ton of Westerns and you could almost always rely on them to be well-acted, intelligently written and a bit better than the genre. While this film certainly doesn't stand out among these many films, it certainly is good and worthwhile--particularly if you've become a Randolph Scott fan like me.

I liked how this film didn't deny that Scott was getting older. He plays a sheriff with a fast gun who realizes that he's made a lot of enemies by enforcing the law over the years--and his reflexes aren't exactly as good as they used to be. I loved how he took a nap by locking himself in one of his back jail cells--so that no one could sneak up on him! Scott deals with a couple angry jerks looking to take him down near the beginning of the film. I particularly loved the barber's chair scene--I wasn't too surprised by it but it was handled well. However, now he has something different to deal with--a greedy and amoral gambler who is determined to get rid of the sheriff once and for all. So, he brings in a hired gun who soon shoots Scott. Now this is the only real problem with the film. It expects us to believe that a gunman who hates Scott shoots him from about fifteen feet and the bullet somehow glances off Scott's head! Even I could have made this shot, and I'm no gunslinger! So you are expected to believe this and not question this plot line for the rest of the film to work. However, I was able to temporarily suspend disbelief and liked what happened next.

The acting and writing are fine and Scott is helped by having some excellent support in the film. It's a good old fashioned story about one man defying the odds--somewhat like HIGH NOON or RIO BRAVO. I especially liked how it all ended.

Memorable and worth seeing, though look for the Scott films directed by Budd Boetticher to see his best film or his final film that was directed by Sam Peckinpah.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
More forsaking from my darling.
mark.waltz3 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Even the most mediocre of movie West westerns looks a heck of a lot better in color, and this one ain't half bad. It's a familiar story, one made famous by "High Noon", this time with marshal Randolph Scott having a legendary reputation that makes dishonest men seek revenge and the women who love him leave him rather than watch him increase the notches on his gun.

Somebody is out to get him, obviously putting a hit on him through an old enemy who ends up dead himself . The arrival of stage actress Angela Lansbury stirs the pot even more with her engagement to ruthless Warner Anderson who has his own plans for Scott.

A ton of veteran actors support Scott and Lansbury, including the salty Ruth Donnelly, hysterically funny as a restaurant proprietor who flirts with Scott while looking out for him like a mother, Wallace Ford as the town doctor, Frank Ferguson as the loyal saloon owner and Jean Parker as an aging glamor girl who seems to have mixed dealings. Jeanette Nolan is featured as the widow of the man Scott killed in self defense, while Don Megowan is excellent as her brother- in-law who hates guns and knew his brother deserved what he got yet can't help but seek revenge. His performance reminded me of Lon Chaney Jr. in "Of Mice and Men".

Lansbury is a stronger female lead than Grace Kelly in "High Noon", getting to perform a musical number from the very first American musical, "The Black Crook". While I couldn't confirm it, she did sound like it was her singing, although it's far less brassier than how she sounded in " Mame". Scott is excellent, although he lacks the emotional conflict of Gary Cooper. Still, there are enough sides in his character to make him very complex. This isn't a classic western by any means, but it has enough tension to keep your interest.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
A man like a devil
Romanus Nies23 May 2007
This is the title of the German version translated into English. That is the way in the sixties German audience could have been attracted to a western movie. This is for me in some respects an outstanding western. I would like to explain why. American western movies are often not very realistic . I give you some examples: 1. heroic main characters are often good looking, handsome (which is not really what disturbs me) and know how to use a gun or knife 2. the characters are mostly simple, straight-forward, there is the good and there is the evil 3. the movies make us believe that the wild west bustled with a few reasonable and righteous people and astonishingly out of 200 adult inhabitants of a town, 190 are cowards or villains or lynchers and of course miserable people or everything altogether which one could find in the gutter of humankind (outside town the rate is a little more favourable)- something I cannot believe,because I do not want to believe, that we Europeans only sent the sludge of our civilization over the ocean. 4.as for shooting! Shootings in American western movies! A world in itself. I wonder whether writers, directors are aware that this is always the most unrealistic part in their films. In every western movie you see somebody shooting with an old muzzle loader 5 miles and kick the rider from the horse; in every movie you see cowboys shooting from the hip, without aiming on a silver dollar thrown into the air, you guess, they hit, not to speak that villains do not get their opponents although they fire from close distance, let us say 20 centimeters, hundreds of broadsides, while the sheriff is shooting back with one single shot between the eyes of the five bandits. This reminds me to war films, where the American guys are outnumbered by their enemies who have a tremendous arsenal of weapons which turn out to be completely useless whereas the American guy swiftly (and heroically) kills with his Colt a whole batallion. What is this nonsense for? Life is not like High Noon. But sometimes it is good to believe it, right? I stop the list here to come to the "man like a devil". What an incredible scene! The sheriff has a shootout with the villain and what happens? I could hardly believe my eyes. The sheriff is felled - although not deadly. The gangster prevails! When it comes to the second shooting the sheriff is clever enough not to risk a fair duel.Right so! That is something I can take. Can You remember the scene where Rob Roy desperately holds the sabre of the opponent who is going to kill him in the next moment with his bare hand?! The big man has no chance in the fair fight against the small but capable adversary, but he has a helping idea. That is how you have to go against the rat pack of this world, which is often more powerful, more skilled. This western movie has some astonishing aspects and therefore I honour him with 8 asterics. By the way Randolph Scott is in his western movies always already a senior. It is the same in true life. Do not expect too much from the youngsters,usually they wet their trousers in difficult situations!
5 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
"When one man goes down, there's always another itching to take his place."
classicsoncall16 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Well I would have lost a bet big time on whether Randolph Scott and Angela Lansbury ever played romantic leads opposite each other. Somehow that just doesn't compute with me. It doesn't help that Scott was sixty eight at the time of filming, with Lansbury looking quite lovely at thirty years of age. My image of Lansbury was formed during her "Murder She Wrote" days, so catching her as a saloon gal singing 'Mother Says I Mustn't' is just a bit too far removed for me to process. Although I have seen her in other early pictures she made, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised when she shows up looking glam any more.

Though it was relevant to the story of an aging town marshal attempting to wait out the transition from lawlessness to civilized society, I don't think I've seen another Western where so many of a town's citizens were looking for the lawman to retire. With a pretty good record of keeping the peace, you'd think they'd want him to hang around some more. That angle probably could have been written somewhat better, it kept distracting me every time Molly (Ruth Donnelly) or Doc Wynn (Wallace Ford) tried to convince Calem Ware (Scott) to retire.

One scene I had trouble with was the showdown between gunslinger Harley Baskam (Michael Pate) and the marshal. It didn't even look like Ware went for his gun, almost as if he was accepting the forced retirement some of the folks of Medicine Bend were recommending. Talk about a tough way to go. I've been watching Hugh O'Brian in his Wyatt Earp TV series, and he made it a regular practice to crease bad guys in the head, but I have this nagging suspicion that it wouldn't have been all that easy to do. Here it looked like Ware was a goner, even if the shot by Baskam went astray; I'm sure he was aiming for the body.

But as usual in these Fifties oaters, the formula brings Calem back around to face his enemies another day, and less than twenty four hours or so since he got plugged. Using the old 'under the swinging door' trick, Ware takes out Baskam who already had his gun drawn in what would have been an unfair shootout. If you've been in enough westerns like Scott, I guess you knew how to make things work out.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
A pleasing Randolph Scott Western worth owning, from the latter stage of his thespian career!
talisencrw30 April 2016
Yes, I know my rating for this is a tad high, but I just love both Randolph's work in general and Angela Lansbury at this really sexy juncture of her career. They have a really good chemistry together, even though the age difference is a shade on the 'Love in the Afternoon' or 'Lolita' side and can be a bit unnerving. Though I've enjoyed other Joseph H. Lewis films, such as 'Invisible Ghost' and 'Gun Crazy', he still doesn't have the touch for Western material that Scott would later enjoy in his collaborations with Budd Boetticher. It's not as dramatic a difference as comparing apples and oranges, but it is noticeable. At least when it comes to Westerns (I haven't seen other types of films by Boetticher), the guy's definitely an auteur, on the level of, say, an Anthony Mann, Howard Hawks or even John Ford.

Very enjoyable, and a work of distinguished quality, definitely worth owning and re-watching.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Veteran marshal is threatened by both gunmen and businessmen.
JohnHowardReid12 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Associate producer: Randolph Scott. Producer: Harry Joe Brown. A Scott-Brown Production. Copyright 1955 by Producers-Actors Corporation. Released through Columbia Pictures Corp. No New York opening. U.S. release: 15 December 1955. U.K. release: 13 February 1956. Australian release: 27 July 1956. Sydney opening at the Victory. 78 minutes.

COMMENT: After a slow start, the plot settles down okay, working in sufficient action for the fans. The dialogue on the other hand remains stubbornly clichéd and pretentious, as well as more than a little verbose. Director Joseph H. Lewis does what he can with it, filming in long takes to get it over with as fast as possible, and even having the actors often turn their backs on it literally to the camera.

Typically, Lewis stages the action spots most vigorously, though a stand-in is obviously doing duty for Randy in his big saloon brawl with Megowan (who slugs it out most effectively without benefit of any cover). Scott is believable, as usual, and receives pleasant to middling support. Pate makes a charmingly chilling villain, whilst Miss Lansbury, who is inclined to ham it up a trifle (well, she is playing an actress after all), at least has a song, which turns out to be one of the film's highlights. Superbly staged, choreographed and directed with the camera starting in on the tacky orchestra and then tracking back slowly through the whole auditorium, this visual delight is an excellent recreation in music and sound.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
A Lawless Street - Offers a Lost Chance
krocheav9 April 2018
There was something special about the dependable Randolph Scott, in his early days he could turn his talents to just about anything (a bit like Joel McCrea). When his romantic lead days were over he fitted perfectly into the Western genre and remained a stalwart into a healthy old age. I looked forward to finding a better than average vehicle for Mr Scott in 'A Lawless Street' and for the first 20mins was almost convinced it might be delivered. There were good one liners and some depthy observations about the character of pending evil. It even featured some very strong cinematography where it was obvious the D.O.P and director were working very well together. Some well staged action scenes also gave it a little more class. Then, sadly it all came to gruelling stop - the tired ole clichés were trolled out and dialog sounded like it was being lifted from a dozen sub-par TV westerns. It was as if the filmmakers had been told they were over budget and the film's release date had been moved forward. As for Scott's leading lady, a surprisingly good looking Angela Lansbury - who did a saucy saloon number in a revealing costume - also seemed above average for this movie. But here again, the script left her fumbling to convince and, she was simply far too young for the aging marshal. Some other better than average co-stars performed believably but overall, the cardboard characters and banal script - left it all in the lower B western category. Pity, I had hoped for a better outcome. Still, maybe one day I'll find a decent copy of "Westbound" - another Scott western with quality co-stars and some reasonable writing that fared better than most but, is rarely found available in any form of 'Studio Quality' DVD. Warner Archives anyone?
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Another Version of "High Noon"
zardoz-1316 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Anybody who knows anything about Hollywood westerns from the 1950s knows that John Wayne loathed Fred Zinnemann's "High Noon" because Gary Cooper's sheriff sought help from the cowardly townspeople and nobody other than his Quaker wife can to his aid. "Red River" director Howard Hawks and Wayne waited seven years later and made "Rio Bravo" as a corrective to "High Noon." Clearly, neither Wayne nor Hawks saw "Gun Crazy" director Joseph H. Lewis' town taming oater "A Lawless Street" (1955) with rugged, square-jawed Randolph Scott who plays a town marshal under similar circumstances. The big difference here is Scott doesn't go searching for help from the townspeople. As it turns out, the townspeople realize by fade-out that they had let their town marshal shouldered too much of the burden while they refused to behave responsibly and share the burden of maintaining safety with the town. Early, in the action, one of the villains observes that half of the people in Medicine Bend are "too yellow to fight back" and the other half are in the pocket of the villainous businessmen. Indeed, the town marshal surrenders both his star and his six-gun after he has cleaned up the town and departs in a buggy with his wife (Angela Lansbury of "Murder, She Wrote") after a lengthy separation between them because she could not tolerate the anxiety as a lawman's spouse.

The town of Medicine Bend is about to take on renewed life as a mining boom town because the captains of industry are going to do the smelting in town instead of shipping the ore hundreds of miles out of town. The economic forces behind this move are unscrupulous businessman Hamer Thorne (Warner Anderson of "The Caine Mutiny") and saloon entrepreneur Cody Clark (John Emery of "Spellbound"), and they mean to get things underway by hiring a professional gunslinger, Harley Baskam (Michael Pate of "Hondo"), to liquidate the star packer, Caleb Ware (Randolph Scott of "The Tall T"), and Baskam beats Caleb on the draw in Cody's saloon. The catch is that Baskam's bullet puts a part in Caleb's skull and Dr. Amos Wynn (Wallace Ford of "Freaks") conceals this vital information from everybody. While the villains are living high, wide, and handsome, Wynn has managed to stash Caleb in his own jail to recuperate. Thorne and Clark are either buying out everybody else in Medicine Bend who supported Caleb or killing them. One irate saloon owner, Abe Deland (Frank Ferguson of "Johnny Guitar"), refuses to sell out. He grabs a gun behind his bar, but the gimlet-eyed Baskam drills him. Meantime, Thorne and Clark ride out to the sprawling ranch of Asaph Dean (James Bell of "Blood on the Sun") who initially empowered Caleb to pin on the star three years earlier. A professional town tamer, Caleb has survived many attempts on his life, and two from killers hired by the sleazy Cody. In the first instance, our stalwart hero is relaxing in a barber's chair, getting a shave, when a third-rate gunman, Dingo Brion (Frank Hagney of "Fighting Caravans"), enters, glimpses the marshal's gun and gun belt hanging up nearby out of reach, and brandishes his own six-shooter to make short order of him. Caleb surprises his adversary and plugs him twice with a derringer concealed beneath the sheet covering him. Scenes with heroes surviving shoot-outs in barber shops in westerns are numerous, such as in Clint Eastwood's "High Plains Drifter" and Tonino Valerii's "My Name Is Nobody." The second instance involves a mustached Hispanic with a knife, Juan Tobrez (Don Carlos of "Wyoming Renegades"), who throws and misses Caleb. Under the circumstances, Hispanics could clamor about racial stereotyping because a Mexican wielded a knife. Appropriately, Cody comes to Caleb's aid and guns down the Mexican, largely because he hired the knife-slinger!

Ultimately, Caleb meets his match in Baskam, and they duel in the traditional western sense in Cody's saloon. Caleb receives a serious head wound, but he doesn't die. When Baskam steps forward to deliver a coup de grace, Dr. Wynn pulls a gun on the gunslinger, and explains that Caleb is dead. Meantime, a sub-plot that smolders on a back burner involves performing artist and vocalist, Tally Dickenson (Angela Lansbury), who turns out to be Caleb's estranged wife. When he was the lawman in Apache Wells, he was constantly in jeopardy, and she couldn't handle it so she abandoned him. Thorne has imported her into Medicine Bend, but he doesn't know that she is estranged from Caleb. Some days pass, and Caleb emerges from his enforced confinement and tangles with Baskam again, but he doesn't give him a fair chance. In this respect, Caleb's action predate John Wayne's action against sharp-shooting gunslinger Christopher George in "El Dorado." Altogether, "A Lawless Street" qualifies as an intelligent, above-average horse opera with Randolph Scott that doesn't wear out its welcome at 78-minutes.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Randolph Scott……(deep breath)...…"RANDOLPH SCOTT!"
LeonLouisRicci22 October 2015
One of the Things that Elevates This One to Slightly Above Average for a Fifties Western is the Ever Present, Ever Humble, Ever Dependable, Ever Demanding, Randolph Scott, the Western Icon Who was Immortalized for His Contribution to the Genre by Mel Brooks in "Blazing Saddles" (1974),

Astute Fans of the Western Know That His Collaborations with Budd Boetticher are the Highlights of His 60 Westerns, and Of Course, No One Could Forget His Curtain Call in Sam Peckinpah's Ride the High Country (1962).

Angela Lansbury Does a Singing and Dancing Number, but Not Much Else. There is an Extended Fist Fight Between Scott's Marshall and a Hulk of Man (said to have killed a mountain lion with his bare hands because the cat scratched his face).

Some Solid Supporting Actors Like Wallace Ford and Others, and the Steady Direction from Joseph H. Lewis Help Somewhat. This Beast of a Town is There to be Tamed by Scott, but He Needs the Help of the Townspeople to Be Successful. Will They Pitch In Before It's Too Late? Good Guess.

Overall, Worth a Watch for Genre Fans. It's a Notch Above Standard Fare but Nothing that Special. Starting the Next Year Randolph Scott Starts the Ball Rolling with Some Very Special Stuff with Boettcher.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
A LAWLESS STREET (Joseph H. Lewis, 1955) ***
MARIO GAUCI8 December 2007
This is really no lesser an achievement than the renowned Randolph Scott/Budd Boetticher Westerns; then again, director Lewis was no slouch (for he made his fair share of minor classics)!

Scott's role is typical – a legendary marshal involved in a HIGH NOON (1952)-type situation, where he's practically left alone to clean up a town riddled with corruption and violence – but the underrated actor invests it with warmth, humor, tenacity and a quiet dignity. The star, then, is supported by a most excellent cast: Angela Lansbury (a fine actress but a rather unlikely chanteuse), James Bell (a usurped town leader), Jean Parker (an ageing belle and the latter's wife), Wallace Ford (predictably in the role of the reliable town doctor), Ruth Donnelly (as Scott's gracious elderly housekeeper), Jeanette Nolan (as the wife of a revenge-seeking ex-con whom Scott has killed in self-defense), and an interesting trio of villains – powerful boss Warner Anderson (who also fancies himself a ladies' man and, in fact, strikes up relationships with both Parker and Lansbury throughout), shifty but nervous gambler John Emery and smooth gunslinger Michael Pate (making for a worthy opponent to Scott).

The above-average script by Kenneth Gamet (an in-joke shows the calendar in the hero's room as being sponsored by Gamet's Vegetable Compound!) gives characterization reasonable depth: Scott and Lansbury are married but she had left him because of his dangerous job (a situation which she has to live through again now); Scott tells Donnelly that he hears The Beast (which symbolizes the scourge of the town) every morning until it's replaced by church-bells at the end of the picture. The highlights – most of the action seems to take place in and around one particular saloon, though in a montage we're shown that Anderson's 'protection' extends to many others in town – include an energetic and brutal fistfight between the hero and a dim-witted giant (who subsequently joins forces with him), an astonishing shoot-out two-thirds of the way involving Scott and Pate which ends with the former left for dead, and the splendid extended climax. On top of it all is the pleasing cinematography by an expert in color lensing, Ray Rennahan.
3 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
Angela lansbury................cant swallow
rickdumesnil-552031 February 2016
not a very bad western......predictable.....but fun to see Randolph Scott practically always in a good humour and looking good for his advancing age. the action is alright and the actors do their jobs....but i don't get Angela lansbury. in all her roles she ruins the movie for me I'm sorry but she doesn't pull my heart strings at all. yes luckily randy was in this film because i don't think i would have reached the end. i have 4 more Scott westerns to watch i hope they fare better than this one and Angela is not co starring or even a character actress. oh i forgot the atmosphere of the movie really passes well and the town is well depicted. maybe a few known character actors....gabby Hayes...Andy devine...Walter Brennan would have helped it get better
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
"Hey, Doc, the marshal just killed Dingo!"
utgard1413 August 2014
Marshal Randolph Scott is the only thing standing between the town of Medicine Bend and lawlessness. Corrupt businessmen in town hire gunmen to get Scott out of the way. Meanwhile, Scott's estranged wife Angela Lansbury shows up, having left him years before due to his violent lifestyle.

Scott and Lansbury are fine. Solid support from Wallace Ford, Jeanette Nolan, and Michael Pate. One of Jean Parker's last movies. She's reduced to a minor part as a married woman having an affair with one of the villains. Predictable western. A couple of nice action scenes. Nothing special but a decent time-passer. Ending is pretty flat.
1 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link
one of Scott's best. Warning: Spoilers
This western has a good story and many excellent action scenes. There is quite a fistfight between the Marshal (Scott) and Dooley Brion (Don Megowan), a very strong guy. The gun duels are unusual and well staged. Marshal Calem Ware is a man who lives not knowing if he will survive that day, because of gunfighters that keep showing up to kill him. There are two women of strong character in the film: Tally (Angela Lansbury)who used to be the Marshal's wife but left him because she could not stand the constant fear and Cora who is the wife of Asaph Dean, and the mistress of Hamer Thorne. Thorne wants to take Asaph's place as the most important man in town. I enjoyed every minute of this film which was probably influenced by "High Noon" and must have influenced "The Fastest Gun Alive".
1 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful?
Report this | Copied to clipboardCopy link

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews