40 user 11 critic

The Violent Men (1954)

Approved | | Western | January 1955 (USA)
A bitter land dispute causes a Civil War veteran to take extreme action.


Rudolph Maté


Harry Kleiner (screenplay), Donald Hamilton (based upon a novel by)

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Complete credited cast:
Glenn Ford ... John Parrish
Barbara Stanwyck ... Martha Wilkison
Edward G. Robinson ... Lew Wilkison
Dianne Foster ... Judith Wilkison
Brian Keith ... Cole Wilkison
May Wynn ... Caroline Vail
Warner Anderson ... Jim McCloud
Basil Ruysdael ... Tex Hinkleman
Lita Milan ... Elena
Richard Jaeckel ... Wade Matlock
James Westerfield ... Sheriff Magruder
Jack Kelly ... DeRosa
Willis Bouchey ... Sheriff Martin Kenner
Harry Shannon ... Purdue


A Union ex-officer plans to sell up to Anchor Ranch and move east with his fiancee, but the low price offered by Anchor's crippled owner and the outfit's bully-boy tactics make him think again. When one of his hands is murdered he decides to stay and fight, utilising his war experience. Not all is well at Anchor with the owner's wife carrying on with his brother who anyway has a Mexican moll in town. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>, corrected by Michael Morrison

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


VOLCANIC! VALIANT! VICIOUS! Violence and Passion the Screen Has Seldom Seen!




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Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

January 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Rough Company See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (Western Electric Recording)| Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The novel upon which this film is based, "Smoky Valley", by Donald Hamilton, was serialized in Collier's magazine from December 11, 1953 to January 22, 1954. See more »


Martha Wilkison: You know Captain for a couple of moments I thought you were going to turn out to be a real human afer all with a temper, pride, everything.
See more »


Referenced in Biography: Barbara Stanwyck: Straight Down the Line (1997) See more »

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User Reviews

A solid genre western with enough about it to make it slightly better than average
7 November 2006 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Lee Wilkison runs Anchor Ranch and has coerced, bullied and killed his way through other farmers to become the biggest land owner in the area. When former Civil War Captain turned farmer John Parrish decides to sell up and head back east to marry fiancé Caroline, he decides to sell to Wilkison despite the objections of the only other remaining landowner Purdue. However Wilkison only offers $15k for the whole shooting match and advises Parrish accepts because either way he intends to own the land. Parrish still plans to sell anyway but when one of his men (Bud) is murdered by Cole Wilkison, he changes his mind and decides to stay and fight.

On paper the plot summary for this western makes it sound like a very straightforward affair, which in a way it is, but it does also have other stuff going on as well. On the basic level it is a solid story of right versus wrong but it is enjoyable as it uses Parrish's military background to make the conflict interesting and different from the usual shoot out scenes. I don't agree with another reviewer that the barroom shooting was as wonderful as all that but it was nice to see the psyching instead of the usual bravado. On top of this it was good to have Parrish be too tired for fighting – not idealistic or naturally peaceful but just uncaring about the wider issues, a nice change for the lead in this genre. This character is well backed up by old Wilkison, who is driven by forces he doesn't totally control to own the whole valley; meanwhile he is dominated by his unfaithful and unscrupulous wife – they are strong characters and it is a shame that the script just sets them up rather than exploring them, but this is a genre western after all I suppose. This lack of depth is shown in the weakness of the ending. Although the change makes sense, the speed it happens at doesn't and a bit of character development would have helped make it much more convincing.

Despite this the characters are helped by the strong cast. Stanwyck may not have the depth but she has the presence to make her character enjoyably evil. Robinson allows her to dominate to create a character that is both "bad" and weak at the same time; sure, he could have been better but he is good with what he has. Ford stands up well alongside this showy support and the script helps him stand out from the genre staple of wide chest and big chin – he isn't amazing by any means but he does embrace the chance to work with a character a bit different from the norm. The rest of the cast are solid enough with turns from Keith, Anderson and Foster as well as a few others.

Overall then a solid genre western with enough about it to make it slightly better than average. Not all the characters and themes are as well developed as I would have liked but they still add value to the film and make it a better prospect than it seems. The cast helps and it is just a shame that the material is not as strong as it could have been (best seen in the slightly unconvincing ending due to a step change in a major character rather than a gradual change).

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