11 user 8 critic

Star in the Dust (1956)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, Western | 13 June 1956 (USA)
A Sheriff planning on legally hanging a killer, has to contend with farmers who want to lynch him, and cattlemen who want to help him escape.


Charles F. Haas (as Charles Haas)


Oscar Brodney (screenplay), Lee Leighton (novel)


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After the death of a rancher his three sons run the ranch but one of them is seen as a coward because of his reluctance to gunfight.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Agar ... Sheriff Bill Jorden
Mamie Van Doren ... Ellen Ballard
Richard Boone ... Sam Hall
Coleen Gray ... Nellie Mason
Leif Erickson ... George Ballard
James Gleason ... Orval Jones
Randy Stuart ... Nan Hogan
Terry Gilkyson Terry Gilkyson ... The Music Man
Paul Fix ... Mike MacNamara
Harry Morgan ... Lew Hogan
Stuart Randall ... Jess Ryman
Robert Osterloh ... Rigdon
Stanley Andrews ... Ben Smith
John Daheim John Daheim ... Jiggs Larribee (as John Day)
Stafford Repp ... Leo Roos


Sheriff Jorden of Gunlock (John Agar) is planning to hang Sam Hall (Richard Boone), who shot three farmers found on cattle land, at sundown. At the casino, betting is 8 to 3 he won't make it. The cattlemen are set to rescue Sam. The farmers hope to lynch him before he can be rescued, and Hall schemes for escape with his girl Nellie Mason (Colleen Gray). But Sheriff Jorden is most concerned with finding out who hired Hall: a leading suspect is the Sheriff's future brother-in-law. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE STORY OF THE MOST DESPERATE GAMBLE THE WEST HAS EVER KNOWN! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Drama | Romance | Western


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

13 June 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Law Man See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Uncredited appearance in his first western for Clint Eastwood (Tom - Ranch Hand). See more »


A couple of townsmen hurry sheriff Jorden to make a decision, because "It's almost two o'clock"(pm). But later, while sheriff is firing back at ranchers from his office, there is a clock on the wall and the time it shows is around 10:30, though it's still daylight. See more »


Sam Hall: You annoy me, sheriff. When I leave your hotel I'm gonna squash you like I'd squash a bug.
See more »


Sam Hall
Written by Terry Gilkyson
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User Reviews

Thrilling and moving story about a sheriff who defied the law to hang a killer
8 March 2019 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

This is the story of the most desperate gamble the west has ever known , dealing with a sheriff of Gunlock named Bill (John Agar) scheming on legally hanging a murderer called Sam Hall (Richard Boone) who shot three farmers found on cattle land , at sundown , and then he defied the law to hang him. As at the saloon , betting is 8 to 3 he won't make it . Bill is a tough ,reckless sheriff and with his own hands he put the rope around his neck . There is a strong confrontation between settlers and cattlemen all around the movie . Our two-fisted marshal has to contend with farmers who want to Lynch the prisoner , and cattlemen who want to help him escape . Shortly after, the farmers hope to lynch him before he can be rescued ; and Hall plans for getaway with his girlfriend Nellie (Coleen Gray) and along the way Bill is treacherously duped by his fianceé (Mamie Van Doren) . Sheriff Jorden is most concerned with finding out who hired Hall : there are several suspects , one of them results to be the sheriff's future brother-in-law called Ballard (Leif Erikson) . ¨Five minutes were all he needed , but five guns were betting the time would run out¨. "The Sun's setting for me. It'd be a shame to miss it" (original herald-all caps) .

Entertaining Western including action , thrills , fights , shot'em up and a peculiar love story between John Agar and the gorgeous Mamie Van Doren . The story is plain and simple , a strong confrontation with a twisted intrigue behind , as a sheriff faces off enemies alone and being abandoned to his fate by the gutless townspeople . An agreeable and slight tale , almost rudimentary , though full of cliches , as the script lines too often settle for crude routine ; however , packing some surprises . Bursting with appealing , charming characters, including decent filmmaking and interpretation . The final stand-off results to be tense , charged and riveting . It is a brilliant studio of a mob mentality in ¨Fred Zinneman's High Noon¨ -the Prototype for a Hundred Westerns- style with provoking individual characterizations , and paced in psychological tendry . As the desolation and bleakness of this town stands in contrast to the heroism starred by the brave sheriff who is betrayed by his girlfriend , too . The narration is perfectly adjusted , from the beginning , until the final showdown and being approximately developed in appropriate runtime : 80 min . John Agar makes a pretty good sheriff of Gunlock planning to hang a killer . Agar played a number of Westerns , some of them directed by John Ford as Fort Apache , She wore a yellow ribbon , and Along the great divide , Johnny Reno , Chisum , Undefeated , Cavalry command ; but he also performed other genres as Wartime : Hell raiders , Sands of Iwo Jima, and standing out in Sci-Fi/Terror genre , in fact he became a Science-Fiction icon , including titles as Tarantula , Revenge of the creature , The mole people , The brain from planet Arous , Attack of the puppet people , Curse of the swamp creature , Women of the prehistoric planet , Invisible invaders , Fear , Body Bags , The daugher of the Dr. Jekill , among others . There stands out a fine support cast , such as : Richard Boone as Sam Hall, Leif Erickson as a leading suspect , Coleen Gray as his sister , the elderly James Gleason , Randy Stuart , Stanley Andrews , Paul Fix and Henry Morgan .

Atmospheric musical score by Frank Skinner and note the continuing use of ballads by a minstrel along the streets with song ¨Sam Hall¨ written and performed by Terry Gilkyson as The Music Man . It packs a colorful and brilliant cinematography in Technicolor by John Russell , shot in Universal Studios ; Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California . Produced in middle-budget by Albert Zugsmith , here director Charles F. Haas managed to create a nice work of art with fine acting , appropriate scenarios from production designers Alexander Golitzen and Sweeney , and attractive plot . As he makes a picture really intriguing , not merely because Charles Haas 's tersely economic narration of his material , but because Universal Pictures made a decission to cut budget and reducing locations . Haas worked heavily for Universal, and was assigned to write and produce Moonrise (1948). He soon returned to making industrial films, then turned to television directing. He made his feature directorial debut in 1956, and turned out a string of low-budget westerns, gangster and juvenile-delinquent pictures - several with third-string Marilyn Monroe wannabe Mamie Van Doren - before returning to television. In the early 1950s he, along with such Hollywood notables as actor Robert Ryan and director John Sturges, founded the Oakwood School, a private academy in Los Angeles geared toward "progressive" education. As Charles Haas directed films of all kinds of genres such as : Screaming Eagles ,The Big Operator , Girls town , Showdown at Abilene , Wild Heritage, Summer Love , Platinum High School , The beat generation . And especially working in known TV series , such as : Perry Mason , Bonanza , Hawaiian Eye , 77 Sunset Strip , Broken arrow ,Man Without a Gun, Death Valley Days , Charlie Chan , Zane Grey , Route 66, Maverick , Caravan , The Mickey Mouse Club , Dick Tracy , among others . Rating : 6/10 . Acceptable and passable western. Well worth watching .

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