8 October 2006 | rsoonsa
By Not Having Its Angle Shifted, The Film Provides A Satisfactory Degree Of Entertainment.
Producer A. W. Hackel completed twenty-four B-type Westerns for his own penny pinching Supreme Pictures Corporation, most characterized by a basic linear storyline with this Johnny Mack Brown vehicle being true to the type, as well as one of the best, with Brown cast as Jeff Hayes in a unique role: operator of a traveling gambling operation, upon this occasion setting up his roulette wheel, poker tables, and other tools of the trade in the back room of a saloon, queerly enough encouraged to do so by the town's sheriff who is requesting assistance from old friend Hayes in a struggle against a local criminal group. This is a self-styled "cattleman's association", collective villain of the melodrama, essentially a protection racket that demands "dues" from anyone owning one or more head of cattle. It is managed by Brett (Charles King) although the actual boss of the organization is not revealed to its various henchmen, of whom "Dirk" (Dick Curtis) is the foremost collector of the mandatory membership fees. Garrett (Frank Ball), publisher of the town's newspaper, is determined upon restoring freedom of choice to victims of the blackguards by utilizing the power of the press, and therefore is busily gathering resistance from among the hapless citizens impelled to pay for "protection"; however, he and his daughter Betty (Iris Meredith) do not trust Hayes due to his gambling vocation, and when Jeff ostensibly becomes a member of the vicious gang, it would seem that any negative opinion of him has been validated. Brown is impressive from his initial scene, both as actor and horseman, through the film's finale, while there is solid support turned in from Curtis and Meredith. A substantial assemblage of skillful Western supporting players is effective for this production by avoiding the omnipresent risk within this genre of cardboard characterization, while a well constructed script and the brisk editing of Roy Luby add value to this action propelled adventure tale.