The Brass Legend (1956) Poster

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great film! how can it be so ignored?
tmwest14 October 2011
Th Gunfighter and High Noon were landmarks for the western genre. They determined the style of many films to come, but none of those turned out to be as good as "The Brass Legend". Gerd Oswald besides this film also directed "A Kiss Before Dying" and "Fury at Showdown", the two of them remarkable. I saw this film yesterday and was amazed at how actual it seemed, also full of the unexpected in a genre where there is a lot of routine. There is Donald McDonald as Clay Gipson, the little boy that makes you realize how far from Shane this movie is. Millie Street (Rebecca Welles) is outstanding , the prostitute with no gold in her heart. Raymond Burr as Tris Hatten gets you scared just by looking at the camera, you know you can expect the worst from him. Hugh O'Brian all in black is the perfect Sheriff. Great showdown halfway through the picture. After you see this movie, which caught your attention full time with no break you wonder how come it is so ignored. Two words only: Great film!!
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A fast moving, action filled western.
bux28 October 1998
Warning: Spoilers
O'Brian is the town sheriff (just like on TV) attempting to keep peace, and in so doing, must remove Burr. Good cast in a better-than-average plot bring this picture to an exciting duel on horseback. Burr's death scene is memorable.
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An Underrated and Overlooked Classic Western
zardoz-1313 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Director Gerd Oswalt's modest but compelling oater "The Brass Legend" qualifies as a vastly underrated and overlooked western that probably didn't create much of a sensation when United Artists released it in 1956. Some fifty odd years later, however, this lean, mean B-movie with sharp black and white photography and memorable dialogue not only looks splendid but it also is genuinely entertaining because it contains realistic characters that you care about. This law & order frontier saga pits square-jawed good guy hero Hugh O'Brien—who must have done this movie while on hiatus from his TV show "The Life and Times of Wyatt Earp"--against evil-as-they-come villain Raymond Burr before he achieved fame on TV as "Perry Mason." Although this is clearly a formula-driven western, Oswald treats the script written by Jess Arnold of "The Eagle and the Hawk," Don Martin of "Arrow in the Dust," and Don Zuckerman of "Ride Clear of Diablo" with respect. Basically, nothing in "The Brass Legend" comes off either looking or sounding cheap, campy, or tawdry. Several things stick out about this sagebrusher. First, Oswald stages a terrific shoot-out in a saloon about three-fourths of the way into the action. What distinguishes this gunfight is that we see both the lawman and the bad guys in the same image when the shooting erupts. Clint Eastwood has often said that most Hollywood westerns tend to cut from shots of the man doing the shooting to shots of the man getting shot. In other words, you don't see both combatants in the same shot. Consequently, "The Brass Legend" differs from most oaters where the combatants are separated on-screen during the gunplay. Second, "The Brass Legend" violates another of those unwritten rules when it shows a youngster getting blown off his horse by a bushwhacker. Children under age sixteen are typically not the victims of on-screen violence, but you get to see the youngster here knocked off his horse by a rifleman who deliberately wanted the youth killed. Like most westerns of the 1950s, adult males serve as role models for juveniles. In "Shane," for example, the hero teaches a little boy how to draw and shoot a pistol. Most of these westerns preach against life by the gun. In "The Brass Legend," adults teach juveniles how to shoot and advocate that they carry firearms and that they are proficient in their usage. Essentially, no adults in this movie admonish the juvenile about toting firearms or using them. At one point, the hero warns the youth that he must know how to shoot correctly or he could be killed in a gunfight.

"The Brass Legend" opens with Sheriff Wade Adams (Hugh O'Brien) watching young Clay Gipson (Donald MacDonald of "Two Guns and a Badge") practicing his fast draw. Clay's target is a wanted poster of notorious outlaw Tris Hatten (Raymond Burr) who has a $5-thousand dollar reward on his head. Later, Clay's father, widower Tom Gipson (Robert Burton of "The Slime People"), rides back to the Gipson ranch where Wade is supervising Clay's target practice with a white horse that he bought from a Yaqui horse trader. Clay names the horse after its trader Sinoye and saddles him up to ride. Needless to say, Clay is very proud of his horse and spends a lot of time exercising his new Cayuse. While Clay is off riding, Wade and Clay's father clash on his future. It seems that Wade and Tom's grown-up daughter Linda (Nancy Gates of "Magnificent Roughnecks") plan to get married. Tom wants Wade to turn in his badge and become a partner in his ranch. Linda also wants her future husband to quit being a lawman. Temporarily, Wade and Tom are at loggerheads over this issue because Wade has no intention of giving up his job.

Meanwhile, everybody mistakenly believes that Tris Hatten is long gone and dead until he turns up unexpectedly in the Mexican part of town and sends Sanchez (Vincent Padula of "The Three Outlaws") out to contact saloon hostess Millie Street (TV actress Reba Tassell) about seeing him. The sight of Hatten alarms Sanchez because he had heard that Hatten was dead. Millie hires a horse and buggy and rides out to meet Hatten. At the same time that Millie is driving off to rendezvous with Hatten, Clay spots her and hides. Afterward, he follows to Sanchez's place and spots Hatten. Clay hightails it back to the ranch. On the way home, he crosses trails with Wade. Wade finds it difficult to believe that Tris Hatten is not only alive but also in the town of Apache Bend. Back at Sanchez's place, Hatten sheds his gun and shell belt and makes out with Millie on the bed. Wade storms in with his gun drawn and takes Hatten prisoner. When Hatten in handcuffs tries to resist Wade, our hero slugs him over the head and deposits his unconscious bulk in Millie's rental wagon and orders her to drive him into town. News spreads like wildfire about Hatten's capture. Initially, the villain thought that Millie turned him in but he knows better later on after he thinks about it. When the editor of the local newspaper—The Blade—gets the story from Wade, Wade refuses to name his informant. When Tom pries the truth out of Clay—who promised Wade that he wouldn't say a thing—Tom goes to the newspaper editor and they publish all the facts. A gunman ambushes Clay and the boy manages to pull through despite a severe wound. Hatten's former associates try to kill Wade in a saloon shooting. Wade jails the man who shot Clay, but this fellow smuggles in a derringer and Hatten escapes. Wade and Hatten shoot it out on horseback and Hatten dies grateful that he won't swing from the gallows.

Oswald does an outstanding job with this black and white western. The performances, especially Raymond Burr as the villain, are uniformly excellent. The following year Oswald helmed another Spartan western entitled "Fury at Showdown."
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"There won't be any strange faces in Apache Bend tonight."
classicsoncall20 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
With Raymond Burr forever etched in the minds of TV watchers as lawyer Perry Mason, it's somewhat uncharacteristic to see him toting a handgun as the main heavy in a sagebrush yarn like "The Brass Legend". He looks the part too, all gruff and unruly, and perhaps with a girth I hadn't noticed before. Hugh O'Brian looks just right for the part of a sheriff, whether here as Wade Addams, or as the lead character in "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp". Can you believe that series is over fifty years old?

For a Western that follows a fairly standard formula, director Gerd Oswald provides some interesting scenes that were never staples of the genre. Like young Tom Gipson (Robert Burton) getting shot off his horse, or how about that fancy showdown in the saloon when the Sheriff takes out all three Barlow brothers? That scene came off as totally realistic, vindicating Addams' tarnished reputation in bringing outlaw Tris Hatten (Burr) to justice in the first place. Even the ending was done differently, instead of your standard showdown in the middle of a dusty street, you have both antagonists riding toward each other like jousting knights, but with guns blazing instead. There seemed to be just the right amount of satisfaction in Hatten's dying breath as he figures he outlived the hangman.

But you know, I keep wondering about one scene. How many takes do you think it required for Burr to find his mark when he threw his holstered gun against the wall?
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Not according to the code of the west
bkoganbing1 September 2014
There seems to be a lot of the same kind of people that inhabit the town that Hugh O'Brian is the sheriff of as there were in High Noon where Gary Cooper was the law. O'Brian gets about the same amount and kind of support that Cooper did.

The Brass Legend has Sheriff O'Brian getting a tip from young Donald MacDonald that notorious outlaw Raymond Burr is in the area and keeping company with a lewd saloon woman Rebecca Welles. Before they get down to business O'Brian has the drop on Burr.

Well by God this is not according to the code of the west where you're supposed to face the bad guy down and maybe get killed. Bad enough that Welles believes it and makes no secret about it, but half the town thinks like she does and thinks that Burr got a raw deal.

Further they don't like that O'Brian tried to keep young MacDonald's name out of it thinking that one of Burr's friends might want to shoot the snitch even if he's 12 years old. Sure enough a particular low life specimen does.

O'Brian is a stalwart hero in the mold of Wyatt Earp whom he just started playing on television. Burr is always an interesting villain and Welles as the vengeful saloon woman is fascinating.

The Brass Legend a good B western, fans of O'Brian and Burr will not be disappointed.
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Marvellous Western from Oswald
discount195710 August 2014
A marvellous Western from Oswald, a director who brought an intensity and fluidity to the B-Western that seems impossible given the five-to-seven-day shooting schedule it and the equally impressive 'Fury at Showdown' (1957) shared. Burr and O'Brian are the baddie and peace officer respectively set on collision course, when O'Brian captures Burr only to have him escape. The action is breathtaking - the climax has Burr and O'Brian racing towards each other on horseback, guns drawn - but it is Oswald's assertive camera, creating a jail break in one long take, for instance, that one remembers.

Ph. H.
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A town filled with idiots and knuckleheads.
MartinHafer29 December 2013
Hugh O'Brien plays Sheriff Addams--one of the few inhabitants of a stupid old west town. I say stupid because the folks don't seem all that bright and they seem to appreciate their sheriff about as much you'd appreciate Eczema!

Clay Gipson is a 12 year-old who happens to see the wanted killer, Tris Hatten (Raymond Burr). When he tells the sheriff, Addams is able to capture the baddie. Oddly, many of the townsfolk seem to feel sorry for Hatten--even though he's killed several people! As I said, it's a very stupid town!! So, the trick is to bring Hatten to trial and convict him--while at the same time Addams and Gipson remain alive to see it! But, the conspiracy of stupids is strong!!

The biggest weakness of this film is how fickle and stupid the townspeople were--a bit too stupid if you ask me. I also thought a few of the characters were ridiculous--such as Hatten's girlfriend (???). Clay's father wasn't much better. But, O'Brien does a nice job as does Burr--who is always great in baddie roles. On balance, worth seeing but far from a must-see picture.
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Average 50's B-Western
dougdoepke3 December 2007
Routine Western with not much to recommend it, which is rather surprising since director Gerd Oswald has something of a cult following. The problem lies with a stone-faced O'Brien and an undistinguished script whose high-point comes in a gun jousting showdown along a country road. In fact, only bar girl Millie (Rebecca Welles, aka Reba Tassell) manages to inject some life into the proceedings. Too bad Raymond Burr's villain Tris Hatten doesn't get more screen time. He has all the makings of a good florid baddie. It's odd to see Burr in such a leering role after his career years as the super-straight Perry Mason. Anyway, the European-born Oswald plays the unfamiliar material of a Western in pretty straightforward, unimaginative fashion, when what's needed is something to lift the movie above the ordinary.
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Nothing special!
JohnHowardReid24 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Aside from its shoot-out climax on horseback, this is an undistinguished little formula western. Oswald's direction is extremely routine with its long takes, static camera angles, plus a decided emphasis on uninspired close-ups, principally of wooden-faced Hugh O'Brian.

The acting is as lethargic as the dialog is cliched. The characters are one-dimensional and with one or two exceptions (such as Burr's jaded killer, Tassell's ruthless saloon girl), the playing lacks sparkle, although it's nice to see Russell Sinpson as Pop Jackson (one of the jailers) and Norman Leavitt as a deputy who even covers out hero in a saloon shoot-out.

Production values are very moderate, and credits undistinguished. In fact there is a great deal of very obvious day-for-night shooting!
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A prime candidate for Mystery Science Theater 3000
gdonner30 December 2012
The only person who should have been shot in this movie is the writer. From a sheriff who sends a murderer to town under the auspices of his girl friend, to a father who has no regard for the safety of his son, this movie is ripe for some very rotten tomatoes.

The dialog adds nothing, and the actors can't save the plot and keep the viewer's interest.

By comparison, "Plan 9 from Outer Space" is at least humorous and entertaining. Would love to see this served on a platter to Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo.

Don't waste your time on this when there are good westerns out there worth watching.
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