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Jim Trask, former sheriff of Abilene, returns to the town after fighting for the Confederacy to find everyone thought he was dead. His old friend Dave Mosely is now engaged to Trask's former sweetheart and is one of the cattlemen increasingly feuding with the original farmers. Trask is persuaded to take up as sheriff again but there is something about the death of Mosely's brother in the Civil War that is haunting him.Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
In a 2007 interview, director Charles Haas talked about helping Jock Mahoney, the star of this film, not be upstaged by a young David Janssen, whose gifts he recognized. "In a picture at Universal [Showdown at Abilene], I had David Janssen. I had him with [Jock Mahoney], who . . . was basically a stuntman. Stunts were easy for him, but as an actor he lacked a certain energy. So I couldn't afford to have David Janssen as his assistant, but he was under contract at Universal, and I had to [use] him. So I had him leaning against a door in every scene. He never understood why. The reason was, if I hadn't had him leaning against a door in every scene that he was in, he would've outdone [Mahoney], who was the star." See more »
Showdown at Abilene is directed by Charles Hass and written by Bernie Giler and Clarence Upson Young. It stars Jock Mahoney, Martha Hyler, Lyle Bettger and David Janssen. Music is by Joseph Gershenson and photography by Irving Glassberg.
Plot has Mahoney as Jim Trask, a former Sheriff of Abilene who returns home from the Civil War with a guilty conscience and a new contempt for guns. Compounding his troubles is that his old friend Dave Mosely (Bettger) has taken up a romantic relationship with his girl, Peggy Bigelow (Hyer), and he soon learns that Dave is also into villainous activities. Can Trask overcome his troubles and restore order to Abilene and his life?
Better than average and competently acted, Showdown at Abilene is a solid time filler for the undemanding Western fan. Although thoughtful in its treatment of the characters, formula dictates there are no surprises and comparisons are easily drawn to better Westerns with the same thematics. Mahoney (TV series The Range Rider) turns in a good show as the emotionally perturbed Trask, while as a stuntman by trade he isn't found lacking in the physical demands of the role as he leaps around with exciting conviction. Hyer (The Sons of Katie Elder) is pretty as a picture as serves the story well as a rose between two thorns, while Bettger (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral) scores favourably as the crafty Dave Mosely. Not faring so well is Ted de Corsa (also Gunfight at the O.K. Corral) as Dan Claudius, who looks (and is) wrong for prime villain duties. Shot primarily out of Morrison Ranch, Agoura in California, picture sadly is lifeless in colour, so we never get to see the locale and costuming come to life. Producer Howard Christie liked the story so much he re-made it eleven years later as 'Gunfight in Abilene', where Bobby Darin starred as the conflicted lead character.
Nothing overtly impressive here, nor anything particularly damning either. Just safe and solid B Western viewing. 6/10
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