Steve Sinclair is a world-weary former gunslinger, now living as a peaceful rancher. Things go wrong when his wild younger brother Tony arrives on the scene with his new gun and pending bride and former saloon girl Joan Blake.
Granted a small plot of land in a lush valley and a start of cattle by the generous landowner and cattle baron, Dennis Deneen, the once-feared gunslinger, Steve Sinclair, has renounced violence, intent on keeping the peace in the community. However, the sudden arrival of Steve's much younger brother, Tony, and his saloon singer fiancée, Joan Blake, will pave the way for a bitter rivalry between siblings, as the volatile young gunfighter craves to prove his mettle. More and more, Tony's tricked-out custom six-shooter demands blood. Is Tony destined to be the lord of the rich valley?Written by
A first score was written and recorded by Jeff Alexander but had to be replaced due to extensive re-cutting. See more »
When Brick and Steve have their discussion about looking for Tony, many of both their mouth movements do not match the words they are speaking. See more »
I know all about the brother and the sickness inside him. He didn't get that from Steve, he was born with it.
I don't think that Tony ever did get born. I think that somebody just found him wedged into a gun cylinder and shot him out into the world by pressing the trigger.
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This is worth a watch if you are a fan of the more adult-themed westerns of the 1950s. But whose bright idea was it to put Cassavetes in a movie like this? It's a helluva weird choice. His acting style is so different from that of his co-star Robert Taylor that the film barely holds together.
To his credit, Cassavetes shoots for veracity, for a naturalism that brings humanity to a character that could've easily become a cardboard cutout of a psycho. In some ways, he is elevating the worn out clichés of the script, bringing some real life to them. But other aspects of his performance are flat absurd. For example, he periodically attempts some sort of ridiculous "western" accent, then just as quickly he'll drop it; sometimes this happens within a single line of dialog. You can take the boy out of Brooklyn, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the boy, and I never bought for an instant that he was a tough western ranch kid with lingering Confederate sympathies. And his mood swings, as he goes rapidly from giggling to brooding, are hyper and overdone.
Meanwhile, Taylor is all classic Hollywood "strong & silent type" understatement, bordering on wooden and inexpressive. Their scenes together are oil and water. It brought me out of the story, into awareness that I was watching two actors who shouldn't be sharing the stage together. Their aesthetics are just too different.
In the plus column, supporting character actor Royal Dano is amazing in this movie, utterly convincing as a squatter with lingering Civil War resentments and a legal claim on a piece of land that puts him in direct conflict with the area ranchers. There are some brutal, squirm-inducing, standout scenes where Cassavetes terrorizes Dano. These are really subversive in a way, as Cassavetes' character takes on a role usually reserved for Indians, nameless "Others" who are utterly inhuman and dispensable.
I was also pleasantly surprised at Julie London's performance. She has a few key scenes early in the film and does a fine job, but she's underutilized; her character is sketched quickly, then left underdeveloped as her story thread is largely dropped.
Overall, this could've been a lot better, but it holds some interest for those with a particular love for the sub-genre. And Cassavetes fans will find much to like about his performance, at least for curiosity's sake.
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