U.S. Marshal Bovard comes to a small border town to identify and arrest a fugitive, but the whole town seems determined to prevent the Marshal from doing his job.U.S. Marshal Bovard comes to a small border town to identify and arrest a fugitive, but the whole town seems determined to prevent the Marshal from doing his job.U.S. Marshal Bovard comes to a small border town to identify and arrest a fugitive, but the whole town seems determined to prevent the Marshal from doing his job.
This is actually more of a drama that just happens to be set in the West.
In other words, you could put this on a stage in front of a live audience, and probably get the same production.
And that's generally pretty good.
We have a story line that really isn't the story line.
The surface plot is Robert Taylor as a cynic who is trying to identify the fourth man in a robbery, a man we know early on played a very minor role, if any. The man is sentenced to be hanged.
He finds that people don't want to identify the man, Jack Lord with blond hair. It's much like "The Spy Who Loved Me" in that it is a quest to have a man killed who probably doesn't deserve it.
That's just the surface plot. In essence, Lord becomes the fourth character. The real plot is the romantic subplot that lays beneath the surface.
The woman in the triangle finds herself in emotional turmoil over betraying Jack Lord's character to the law, which is represented by Taylor and Fess Parker.
Parker is the younger, striking man who immediately sets out to make her his wife. Taylor is the older man who sets out to understand her and have a relationship.
In this, we have a switch. The younger man becomes the solid, steady force, and strangely devoid of romance. He is a tall, handsome, affable fellow. What women call "a catch" in public, but in practice, they just can't find what the all "chemistry" with.
Taylor's character, meanwhile, is full of charged emotion. While Fess is a "Earth", Robert is "fire".
The story becomes the story of female romanticism. It is a very credible depiction, whether we like it or not.
It isn't what I call a "great Western", but perhaps I judge it on the standards of usual action. It is actually a drama, one of those stage dramas that focus on a subject. It isn't dull, and the characters are three dimensional, like most golden age Westerns. It's very watchable.
- Mar 18, 2012