11 user 4 critic

Day of the Badman (1958)

Approved | | Western | 7 February 1958 (Ireland)
Judge Jim Scott must contend with the vicious relatives of a murderer he's about to sentence...and his unfaithful fiancee.


Harry Keller


John W. Cunningham (story), Lawrence Roman (screenplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Fred MacMurray ... Judge Jim Scott
Joan Weldon ... Myra Owens
John Ericson ... Sheriff Barney Wiley
Robert Middleton ... Charlie Hayes
Marie Windsor ... Cora Johnson
Edgar Buchanan ... Sam Wyckoff
Eduard Franz ... Andrew Owens
Skip Homeier ... Howard Hayes
Peggy Converse Peggy Converse ... Mrs. Quary
Robert Foulk ... Silas Mordigan
Ann Doran ... Martha Mordigan
Lee Van Cleef ... Jake Hayes
Eddy Waller ... Mr. Slocum
Christopher Dark Christopher Dark ... Rudy Hayes
Don Haggerty ... Deputy Floyd


The vicious Hayes clan amble into town on the day Judge Jim Scott is expected to sentence murderer Rudy Hayes to hang. Scott, who doesn't wear a gun, seems unconcerned and businesslike, even when Charlie Hayes makes an explicit death threat against him. But the townsfolk start wondering how much bloodshed one hanging is worth. Complicating factor: the sheriff, Scott's chief ally, is also the secret lover of Scott's fiancee Myra... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


HE TURNED KILLER...for one day! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

7 February 1958 (Ireland) See more »

Also Known As:

Decision at Durango See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In Feb. 1958, this film was in wide distribution on a double bill with The Girl Most Likely (1957) starring Jane Powell. See more »


Cora Johnson: Charlie, the trial's over.
Howard Hayes: I told you we'd be late. I told you!
Cora Johnson: Rudy's guilty. Murder in the first degree's what the jury said.
Charlie Hayes: Of course he's guilty. We know that. What about the sentence.
Cora Johnson: Judge is going to do that at 11:00.
Charlie Hayes: Well, we ain't too late at all.
See more »

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User Reviews

An intelligent and brooding Western with a great main and support cast giving awesome interpretations
7 March 2019 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Decent and though-provoking Western with a magnificent Fred MacMurray and a splendid plethora of secondaries . An intelligent , adult and impressively tense Western based on a story by John Cunningham and screenplay by Lawrence Roman . A top-notch cast under superb direction by Harry Keller makes this movie notable in every aspect ,being shot on Universal International Pictures scenarios and locations that serve to increase the mood of claustrophobic tension .This Acceptable , Simple , Powerful , Enjoyable picture tells the story of a valiant judge : Jim Scott (Fred MacMurray) who attempts to settle down for a peaceful existence ; however at the noisy town he must fight and standing against impossible odds , as he has to confront the vengeful , vicious Hayes clan (Robert Middleton, Skip Homeier , Lee Van Cleef) who amble into town on the day . As the upright judge who seems unconcerned against threats is expected to sentence killer Rudy Hayes to hang . Things go wrong when the judge to be aware the sheriff (John Ericson) , Scott's chief ally, is also the secret lover of Scott's girlfriend (Joan Weldon) . Meanwhile , Hayes Brothers make an explicit death menace against him .The story of a man who was too proud to run . When these hands point straight up...the excitement starts! . He turned killer...for one day . Violence...Temptation...Treachery...were the only laws they obeyed!

A Tense and Suspenseful Western with a simple story that engages the viewer until the last scene . The film packs thrills , psychological drama , action , crossfire , loving triangle , and being enough entertaining . It's a medium budget film with acceptable actors , technicians , functional production values and pleasing results . Pretty good and pleasant traditional Western with professional direction and flawlessly acted by Fred MacMurray who steals the show as a peaceful judge who learns that he has become a tough fighter . A Hollywood production full of interesting characters , shootouts and intense drama .This ¨Day of the badman¨not the best Western ever,...but pretty darn close . It is a brilliant studio of a mob mentality in ¨Fred Zinneman's High Noon¨ -the Prototype for a Hundred Westerns- style with strong 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 judge .But for all the obviousness of its meaning , including a simplistically liberal message , which once made it seem a landmark in the adult Western , the picture is really intriguing , not merely because Harry Keller's tersely economic narration of his material , but because Universal Pictures made a decission to cut budget and reducing locations .This acceptable and passable western is plenty of suspense as the dreaded trial approaches and the protagonist realizes he must stand alone but his fellow town people for help , nobody is willing to help him , as the townsfolk start wondering how much bloodshed one hanging is worth . The narration is perfectly adjusted , from the beginning , until the final showdown and being approximately developed in Runtime 81 min . Director managed to create a nice work of art with fine acting , appropriate scenarios , and attractive plot . It provides wonderful sociological lessons that are timeless and transcend the genre. Bursting with appealing , top-drawer characters, including decent filmmaking and interpretation . The confrontation results to be tense , charged and riveting . Fred MacMurray makes a Pretty Good Judge named Jim Scott , he doesn't wear a gun who must contend with the vicious relatives of a murderer he's about to sentence. This is one of a clutch of acceptable horse operas Fred made in the forties , in the late 50s and the early sixties , such as ¨Texas Rangers¨, ¨The trail of the lonesome Pine¨, ¨A gun for a coward¨, ¨Good day for a hanging¨ and this ¨At gunpoint¨. Although MacMurray also played other genres as drama , adventures , wartime , children films , such as : The happiest millionaire , The shaggy dog , Son of Flubber , The absent-minded profesor , The princess come across , The Caine mutiny , Dive bomber , Above suspicion , Murder he says , The miracle of the bells , Alice Adams , The apartment , and Noir film as the classy : Double indemnity . MacMurray is accompanied by the beautiful Joan Weldon as his unfaithful fiancee. And a very good and large support cast , such as :John Ericson , Robert Middleton , Marie Windsor , Edgar Buchanan , Eduard Franz , Skip Homeier , Don Haggerty , Ann Doran and the always great Lee Van Cleef .

The motion picture was professionally directed by Harry Keller . Harry worked at Republic Pictures , specializing in westerns , where he shot a lot , such as : Phantom Stallion ,Red River Shore ,Paso Stampede , Bandits of the West , Savage Frontier , Marshal of Cedar Rock , Thundering Caravans , Black Hills Ambush , Rose Cimarron , Fort Dodge , Stampede , Desert of lost men , Tarnished and most of them starred by Allan Lane and Rex Allen . When that studio folded he went to Universal, directing westerns again : Quantez , Gundown at Sandoval , 6 Black Horses , interspersed with some dramas/thrillers : Step Down to Terror , Man Afraid , Voice in the mirror , Female Animal , comedies : Tammy and the Doctor and war pictures : In Enemy Country. In the late 1960s he stopped directing films and started producing them, although he did keep his hand in directing TV shows. Keller gained some degree of fame as the director called in by Universal to reshoot scenes from Orson Welles' masterpiece Touch of evil (1958), and by most accounts -including Welles'- matched Welles' style quite well . Rating . 6.5/10 . Better than average western . Well worth watching

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