4 February 2006 | krorie
Director Yakima Canutt delivers the goods in this action-filled oater
"Sheriff of Cimarron" was made when Sunset Carson was at the peak of his two-year career as a Republic cowboy star. In a way, this was his first starring role. Before he had been saddled with Frog Millhouse (Smiley Burnette) who often got top billing. Unlike your average six gun hero, Sunset was a ladies man on and off the screen which is what eventually got him canned by Republic when he showed up with an underage filly in hand. In this movie he winks at pretty Helen Burton (Linda Stirling) while making a clicking noise with his mouth reminding one of the sexual grrrr Jerry Lee Lewis and other rockabilly singers used in their music. His acting wasn't the best on the screen but he looked the part of a Saturday afternoon matinée idol. He certainly rode tall in the saddle. He had a promising movie career ahead of him when his rowdy personal life caught up with him.
The talented Yakima Canutt was in charge behind the camera so the viewer is in for the best action scenes possible at the time. Particularly impressive is the final chase involving a runaway stagecoach with Sunset on the coach and his brother Ted atop one of the team horses. The stage breaks away from the team leaving Sunset to fend for himself. This part was a good training ground for Canutt. He elaborated upon it when he directed a similar type situation for the chariot race in "Ben-Hur."
The weakest part of "Sheriff of Cimarron" is the humor which at times is outright embarrassing consisting mainly of childish pranks played on the town character, pill-pusher Pinky Snyder (Olin Howland). Howland was oft times cast a country rube, a role he played so well. His type humor which may have been funny at the time is today definitely not funny. The film even begins with one of the pranks which is an unaccountable flaw in Canutt's direction. The master of stunts should have begun with a spectacular action sequence to pull the audience into the show.
The story is a good one about two brothers, one good and one despicably evil. Ted Carson aka The Sonora Kid ( Riley Hill) makes Cain look like Snow White. He framed his brother Sunset who served three years in prison for his brother's crime. He is hell-bent on shooting his brother in the back while pretending to be his friend. He is a cold-blooded killer. Riley Hill plays the conniving and treacherous sibling to perfection. As Hamlet says, "One may smile, and smile, and be a villain." Republic had the meanest bad guys of any studio. So the outlaws led by stalwart heavy Jack Ingram can be counted on to give hero Sunset Carson as much trouble as he can handle in a 56 minute time slot. The only one missing that would have made it more difficult for Sunset to clean up Cimarron was Roy Barcroft.
Get your popcorn popping and your Milk Duds out, it's time for some straight shootin', fisticuffs, and hard ridin'. Sunset even gets to use a bull whip. Don't miss it.