Esteemed horror-film expert Val Lewton produces director Hugo Fregonese’s highly intriguing 1951 B-movie Western, bringing his characteristic imaginative touch of claustrophobic atmosphere.
That lifts the level of an unremarkable tale about settlers forced to defend their town from an Apache attack. Star Stephen McNally raises his usual game as the gun-slinging gambler Sam Leeds who is on hand to save the day when he assists townsfolk in trouble after they are besieged by Indians, even though they kicked him out, and there is a fine roster of old character actors to back him up.
But its success is all in the handling: three cheers especially for cinematographer Charles P Boyle’s Technicolor images. The Universal studio movie is very competently made and with some style. David Chandler writes the screenplay from Harry Brown’s Stand at Spanish Boot.
Also in the cast are Willard Parker as the town mayor, Coleen Gray, Arthur Shields as the reverend, James Griffith as the lieutenant, Clarence Muse, Georgia Backus, James Best, Ruthelma Stevens (as Betty Careless!) and Sheb Wooley (from TV’s Rawhide).
It proved to be Lewton’s last production, going out on a fairly high note.
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4271
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