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  • This is a fine western, one of the better ones of its era and one that, sadly, is hardly known. Generally speaking, it''s a fun movie that should have a big audience. You can't find it on VHS or DVD and few people have ever heard of it. Just look at how few reviews there are on this website.

    The story is fast-moving because of a nice mixture of action, suspense, romance and even some comedy. Randolph Scott, Gabby Hayes, Ann Richards and Ray Collins are all fun to watch. Scott acted with Shirley Temple and with Astiare & Rogers, etc., but a western is where he looked the most comfortable. As a bonus, we get tough-guy film noir man Lawrence Tierney playing Jesse James!

    Not super, but a solid old western.
  • Most of the best movies were made in the 1940's, and that includes most of the best Westerns. 1946, a particularly good year for Hollywood pictures, saw the production of a number of spectacular, top-dollar "A" Westerns which have since become classics, such as My Darling Clementine, Duel In The Sun, and Canyon Passage. While the more modestly produced Badman's Territory starring rugged second-tier leading man Randolph Scott was not designed to compete with those aforementioned blockbusters, it was tremendously popular in its own day, spawned a sequel, attained a durable popularity, and is now a minor classic in its own right. It also set Scott on the trail to greater stardom and top box office drawing power as a Western only specialist.

    I first saw Badman's Territory in the edited-down re-release version when I was a kid in the early to mid-1950's. They didn't waste a good Western back in those days, and this picture was shown repeatedly as a Saturday matinée. The same 79-minute version started showing up on television also in the 'fifties. For this reason, I suppose, it has come to be thought of as a low-budget "B" movie for kiddies. The overly cute plot device of having a large number of notorious real-life old West outlaws anachronistically thrown together in the same place and time may bolster that impression. Actually Badman's Territory was more of a medium budget production with authentic, well turned out sets and costumes, with a large cast, and assigned to reliable medium budget director Tim Whelan. The original 98-minute running time tells you it was not a "B" picture in the context of a programmer. Though Scott was a second magnitude star, he was near the top of that class. He was billed ahead of John Wayne in the two pictures they made together in the 'forties.

    Though this was apparently his first Western, Whelan handles the project nimbly, getting one of Scott's best performances out of him. He likewise skillfully manages Gabby Hayes, as marshal Scott's outlaw likable sidekick. Gabby is as cantankerous and amusing as ever but not quite so over-the-top and distracting. Badman's territory is fast paced, precisely edited, colorfully scored by Roy Webb, handsomely filmed in beautiful, old nitrate black and white by Robert De Grasse with lots of starkly shadowed night scenes giving the picture a touch of the noir mood. The cinematography may be difficult to appreciate now. The Warner Archive DVD version is far from perfect with lots of "snow" spots showing up from time to time especially in the night scenes. But it is pretty good over all and as good as we are likely to get. Since the original prints and reprints were shown over and over again as already mentioned, its not likely a completely clean copy can be economically reconstructed. I can remember watching films just as beat up in the movie house as a kid, especially with those re-releases. By the time they made the rounds to the theater in the small town where I lived, they had been run through many projectors.

    Too much has been made of the James Boys, the Dalton gang, and Sam Bass all impossibly getting together in one picture. Such time and place compression to get historical personages together in a fictional setting is a time honored, if dubious, literary device going back as far as Homer's Iliad. But no one has even bothered to mention that the evil U. S. Marshal (Morgan Conway) persecuting Scott started out as a captain in the "Texas State Police" with the time being about 1890. Only a Texan up on his state history would know, but Texas has not had a state police since the late 1870's. But it was appropriate in the context of this movie to make the, brutal bloodthirsty marshal a member of that much despised organization, which was regarded as a gang of repressive bully boys enforcing scalawag Governor E. J. Davis' brutal dictatorship. His police force was disbanded as soon as he was voted out. But that's another story, and you'll have to watch another movie if interested -- try Wild Bill Elliot opus, The Fabulous Texan (1947). None of this is worth fretting about in any case. Only the hopelessly literal-minded care about a Western dotting its historical P's and Q's. This is a fiction, for entertainment purposes, and most of us when wanting to be entertained by a movie, do not let a small matter like a character (Jesse James in this case) actually being dead for ten years get in our way.

    And Badman's Territory does answer in the entertainment department. Scott and love interest Ann Richards seem to have good chemistry. This was when he was still young enough, his leading ladies didn't look like his granddaughters. Solid supporting cast includes, as well as Hayes, Ray Collins of Perry Mason fame, tall James Warren as Scott's wavering brother, and pretty Isabel Jewell as Belle Starr. Outstanding are movie and real-life bad boy Lawrence Tierney as a tough but gentlemanly Jesse James, the ubiquitous Nestor Paiva as Sam Bass, and Andrew Tombes as a boozy, absent-mined doctor.

    Intelligent script, engaging story, sharp, colorful dialog, fast moving with lots of action, though not overly violent, Badman's Territory is a top-notch Western in every way. Slick, smooth, satisfying entertainment from one of the platinum years of Old Hollywood's Golden Era.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Old-fashioned: yes, but in the best sense of the phrase. This film has a kind of charm, without being too cornball. It isn't slow but is perfectly well-paced.

    The black-and-white photography is not as good as some Scott westerns but this is not a scenery type of western story. The sound recording must have been done on the cheap, but it doesn't really matter because this is a western and it surely wasn't made for the purpose of selling a soundtrack.

    Movies of all eras (especially today) substitute macho posturing or posing instead of manhood as it was defined in the old days. In contrast, there are two scenes in this film that offer good examples of how things might have really occurred back then. First, the scene where Scott's character just walks squarely into the corral and shoots the horse thief contains no dialog and doesn't need it (good representation of an old corral by the way). The other scene shows Gabby's character refusing to submit to the lawman's demands, knowing that he is about to be shot. He is shot with minimal dialog in a room quietly occupied by the two men alone.

    The fine line that was walked (and sometimes crossed over) between lawman and badman in the lawless areas of the west is well depicted in this film. I have used words like "depicted" in this review because the movie is intended as entertainment, not historical accuracy.

    Randolph Scott, Gabby and others in the cast did more than merely stroll through what could have been just another formula western. They give a good effort and movie fans are the beneficiaries.
  • Hollywood and History do not, as a rule, go well together.

    Once again a western movie is damaged by over-saturation of big-name outlaws -- real people but who lived and died very differently from the script's portrayal.

    Frankly, I watched with trepidation, but was soon more than placated by the very high quality of cast -- and, shucks, the presence of Randolph Scott alone will usually save any movie.

    Here he is assisted by Gabby Hayes, in an unusual but surprisingly moving characterization, and by an actress of whom I know nothing, Ann Richards, a very lovely woman, but whose allegedly English accent never did sound quite right. Turns out she is from Australia.

    The bad guys were played by some, not just veterans, but champions, people such as Lawrence Tierney, Tom Tyler, Steve Brodie, and Nestor Paiva.

    A character named Belle Starr just captivated, just stole each scene she was in, and looking later at the list of players I realize why: She was played by the great Isabel Jewell.

    Several more wonderful actors did not even get credit, and once more we have to pause and say a little prayer of thanks for IMDb.com. There are John Hamilton, Buddy Roosevelt, Kermit Maynard, Emory Parnell, who even has some lines, and Elmo Lincoln.

    The great and unheralded Bud Osborne has a pivotal role early in the film, but no credit.

    Despite the foolishness in using some of the outlaw names, the script has a lot of very good dialog, and it moves, with lots of characters having lots of action.

    "Badman's Territory" is, finally, a very good movie.
  • Badman's Territory is directed by Tim Whelan and written by Jack Natteford and Luci Ward. It stars Randolph Scott, George Hayes, Ann Richards, Ray Collins, James Warren, Morgan Conway, Virginia Sale and John Halloran. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Robert de Grasse.

    The area known as Badman's Territory is a sort of no mans land not yet governed by statehood. No law resides there, the citizens themselves run the area, so as it stands it has become a safe haven for the outlaws and ragamuffins of the West. Into the Badman's Territorial town of Quinto comes lawman Mark Rowley (Scott), who after trailing his injured deputy brother into the area, finds a town bursting at the seams with political intrigue.

    A lively Oater out of RKO, Badman's Territory is only really guilty of cramming too much onto its plate of beans. The town of Quinto is home to some of the Wild West's most notable criminals, such as The James and Dalton Gangs et al, it's also home to many shifty politician types, Indians (as it's their land), business men, a leading lady of the press (Richards) and of course Randolph Scott and his bro played by James Warren.

    The writers take these character threads and try and weave them all together into a cohesive whole, thus we get an outlaw backdrop that never really materialises, a power of the press motif that apparently needed a romantic angle to push it along, and the looming annexation of the area into the Union provides the heartbeat of the story but comes off as a complex narrative piece since so much is going on. While director Whelan is required to insert a horse race, a square dance and the obligatory shoot-out to ensure nobody is bogged down by the ever present politico chatter.

    Scott is as always splendid in this environment, a natural, while Richards does fine work with a pleasingly strong female lead role. "Gabby" Hayes provides the lively comic relief and Conway is suitably oily as crooked lawman William Hampton. However, again because there is so much going on, supporting actors like Lawrence Tierney and Steve Brodie (Jessie James and Bob Dalton respectively) barely get time to impact on proceedings. Which since this is called Badman's Territory is a bit of a bum steer. But in spite of the too many cooks spoiling the broth theme at work, it's watchable stuff and definitely one for Randolph Scott fans to seek out. 6/10
  • Badman's Territory is a unique Randolph Scott film in that it has as its chief villain, a bloodthirsty United States Marshal in the person of Morgan Conway. Other than playing Dick Tracy this might be Mr. Conway's finest moment on screen.

    Randolph Scott is a local sheriff who's aiding Conway in pursuit of the James gang. When they get away, each blames the other, but Conway shoots Scott's brother James Warren who then is taken by the James gang to the Oklahoma panhandle, better known as the Badman's Territory. It's that because it is unorganized with no established law and therefore a haven for the famous outlaws of the west.

    They do flock there, everyone, the James gang, the Dalton gang, Belle Starr and Sam Bass. In real life none of these characters ever met, but this is Hollywood. Randy goes into the territory and finds all kinds of adventure and a little romance with Ann Richards.

    Conway's portrayal anticipates what Kirk Douglas did on screen many years later in his acclaimed western Posse. Conway's a bloodthirsty man who's got big ambitions for that strip of territory. Some of his actions indicate a man on horseback and in the post World War II era that would have struck a resonating tone with the movie going public.

    Of course it's outlaw Bruce Dern that brings Douglas down in Posse and in 1946 you had to have an honest sheriff in Randolph Scott do the deed. Still with Code restrictions in place, Badman's Territory is a good Randolph Scott western. And I'm sure made a few dollars for RKO back in the day.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Badman's Territory" was a strp of land within the Oklahoma Panhandle that was not a part of the Indian Territory or neighboring states where outlaws could find refuge from the law without fear of being arrested. The town of Quinto is the center of the story.

    We start out with Gabby Hayes setting up a train robbery by the James gang. Jesse (Lawrence Tierney) and Frank (Tom Tyler) make off with express robbery funds with ole Gabby driving the getaway wagon. Politically ambitious Marshal Bill Hampton (Morgan Conway leads the posse in pursuit of the bandits. Local sheriff Mark Rowley (Randolph Scott) and his two deputies, brother John (James Warren) and Bud Osborne are also in pursuit.

    When John Rowley brings in Coyote (Hayes) Marshal Hampton tries to take over but Rowley refuses. Rowley is shot in the back by Hampton but manages to escape with the James gang and flee to Quinto. Mark Rowley follows them into Quinto where he has no jurisdiction. He finds his brother wounded but recovering. He strikes up an aquaintance with local crusading newspaper woman Henrietta Alcott (Ann Richards) who is trying to bring law and order to Quinto through her editorials.

    Town bosses Colonel Farewell (Ray Collins) and saloon owner Ben Wade (Richard Hale) are against amalgamation with the soon to be state of Oklahoma. That's about it. The James boys and later the Dalton gang led by Bob Dalton (Steve Brodie) have little to do other than provide star power to a weak story. Nestor Paiva playing Sam Bass does provide some action when he makes off with the proceeds of a horse race and conks out poor ole Gabby. Mark come to his defence and has it out with Bass.

    John Rowley recovers from his wound and decides to join Coyote and the Daltons on their ill fated Coffeyville bank heist. John is shot and later dies as a result of an ambush which awaited them in Coffeyville. Marshal Hampton, the real villain of the piece tries to impose his brand of law on Quinto and................................................

    AS in most of these all-star bandit movies, several familiar faces pop up during the course of the film. Look for among others, George Chesebro as the Express Agent on board the train, Harry Harvey as the station agent, Ben Johnson and Bob Wilke as a couple of Deputies, as well as, Kermit Maynard, Emory Parnell, Elmo "Tarzan" Lincoln, Snub Pollard and Jason Robards Sr.

    Followed by a sequel of sorts, "Return of the Badmen" the following year.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A little bit of territory at the tip of Texas is known as Badman's territory in this very enjoyable tall tale about the old west and the place where the infamous gangsters all went to hide out from the law. Unlike the similarly named 1958 film "Badman's Country", this is a well-made collection of various lawbreakers, some of whom probably never met, and has a great cast playing the James brothers, the Dalton brothers, Sam Bass and Belle Starr.

    At the forefront is Randolph Scott as sheriff Mark Rowley who comes to the territory to settle the debt and ends up staying eventually sought out by marshal Morgan Conway who isn't as law abiding as his badge claims. But for the most part, everything's fine there until Texas is changed from a territory to a state, and with real law and order (some of it not on the real up and up) threatening their way of life in a territory that basically is law abiding when they're all together, and thanks to female newspaper owner Ann Richards (no relation to the later Texas governor), those who breaks the law while in the territory are exposed.

    It's an interesting story that has the James brothers, Dalton's and others okay with breaking the law when they're out of the territory, but for the most part, only in seclusion and living a quiet life when in this area. there's a bit of a rivalry between Richards and Isabel Jewell, playing Belle Starr, especially when the community has a horse race and Scott must declare the real winner.

    Lawrence Tierney is Jesse James, Nestor Paiva Sam Bass and Steve Brodie Bob Dalton. Fantasy for sure to see these known felons somewhat vindicated, but this is Hollywood storytelling at its best even though it's not a history lesson. Virginia Sale is good as Richard's assistant, and George "Gabby" Hayes, as Coyote, gets to be a little more serious even if he looks the same as he did in all those B westerns.

    Ray Collins is another standout as the patriarch of the territory, gregarious but not pompous, and James Warren, as Scott's gangster brother (the reason why he came there in the first place) is good as well. Don't go into this expecting to learn any facts, but enjoy the great storytelling, misunderstood antiheroes (quite fictionalized) and strong women who were just as important as the men in helping settle the old west.
  • Randolph Scott and Gabby Hayes!! doesn't get better than that for an old cowboy western. and Jesse James. purports to tell the story of Badman's territory, the lawless land of the Oklahoma handle. Ray Collins is in here.. he usually played the bad guy. Mark and Johnny (Scott and James Warren) go after the James gang, after they rob the train. as usual, stuff happens, and we're not sure who's telling the truth. Ann Richards is "Henryetta", editor of the local paper, trying to tame the wild town and get the simple town fixtures, like roads, hospitals, schools. The other gal in town is Belle Star (Isabel Jewell).. she owns the horse that's going to compete with Mark's horse. thousands of men, but only two women. hmmm. This one is only okay. story is a little un-even, and kind of changes direction here and there. Directed by Tim Whelan.
  • Perhaps the most disjointed, incomprehensible major studio film I've ever seen. I defy anyone to accurately encapsulize the plot in a sentence or even ten. I just watched this film and have no idea what it is about. Now, I love Westerns. I am almost fanatic in my appreciation of Randolph Scott and George 'Gabby' Hayes, and both of them are terrific in this movie. But the script is word spaghetti. The leading lady, Ann Richards, speaks with a British accent for no discernible plot reason, and she gives a performance slightly less believable than might have been obtained from a brick. Outlaw gangs from all over the West and all over the 19th century are thrown together without much apparent purpose other than their name value. Nothing much of interest or accuracy happens with any of them. Nestor Paiva, quite at home playing Italian peasants or gangsters, is bizarrely cast as Texas outlaw Sam Bass, who in real life died at 27, fourteen years younger than Paiva. Chief Thundercloud portrays the Arapaho chief Tahlequah, despite the fact that Tahlequah is a Cherokee name. Geography is tossed about like a piñata; Scott takes a pleasant little day ride on horseback from one end of Oklahoma to the other and back, an actual distance of about 750 miles, and the geographical location is actually referred to officially as "Badman's Territory." As if. None of this would matter if the movie were any good. History, geography, and real-life logic have been tossed willy-nilly into the air quite entertainingly in many movies before and since. But with the entertaining ones, it was possible usually to follow the story. It's great fun to watch Scott, and Hayes gives a particularly enjoyable and offbeat performance. But that's all, brother.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    From the onset, this film irritated me. While I love Randolph Scott films, he made a bunch in which the likes of the James gang and other baddies from the old west are elevated to epic proportions. First, it's bad history and second it makes the films dull--who wants to see another one of 192382504508 (give or take 6) such films. Truly this sort of thing is clichéd---VERY clichéd.

    The film begins by explaining how a tiny portion of Oklahoma had no law and as a result vicious gangs would hang out in the town of Quinto. Our hero, Randy, was chasing the James and Dalton gangs when his brother (also on the side of niceness) was nearly murdered by one of his own posse! It seems that the rich guy wanted to hang the brother's prisoner without a trial and without so much as a "hey, you", he shot the brother! Well, the James gang comes to the rescue (even though in real life they were evil) and they take the brother back with them to Quinto. Later, when Randolph Scott catches up, he learns from the jerk who shot the brother what supposedly happened and makes his way to Quinto. There, naturally, he meets up with a nice lady (a cliché herself, as she's a 'spunky owner of a newspaper'--a common character in such films). But when Belle Starr (another over-represented character from the old west) shows, both seem to have their eye on Randy.

    While Scott is in Quinto, he acts like a western social worker. First, he helps the newspaper owner as the baddies in town are determined to shut her down for good. Second, in a rarity in films, he actually helps the local Indian tribe to receive justice (wow...he forget to shoot them like they'd do in most westerns). What he doesn't realize, however, is that the jerk that shot his brother is now a US Marshall and has reported that Scott and his brother are both bandits!! What is poor old Randy to do?!

    "Badman's Territory", despite its many clichés, is not a bad film--nor is a particularly distinguished one. You can't help but like Scott's typical laconic style. But there isn't much else to distinguish this one from the huge crowd of similar films from this era--when it seemed that about 1/3 of all the output from Hollywood were westerns! By the way, there was one really odd thing about this film. Since George Hayes created his old coot persona of 'Gabby' in the mid-late 1930s, this lovable character was ALWAYS a good guy--brave, loyal and good. Here, however, the film begins with him working with the bad guys!! While he's kind of a nice baddie, he IS a law-breaking galoot! This just felt weird...sort of like when Randolph Scott played a baddie in his final film, "Ride the High Country". Weird....very weird.
  • rc22318 August 2000
    Warning: Spoilers
    In this minor but fun western various characters (including the James gang and the Dalton gang) wind up in a lawless town. A lot of shooting, just enough story and even a horse race. See Gabby Hayes get shot! 7
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As the line in the song goes, "Whatever happened to Randolph Scott?" I really admired Scott in his pre-Western days. And, although I (along with the rest of America) grew very tired of Westerns by the end of the 1950s, I always looked to Randolph Scott Westerns as being pretty good for the genre. Here, however, I have to agree with a handful of our other reviewers who find this film a confusing mess! Let's see, some sheriffs are good guys, some are bad guys; some outlaws are good outlaws, others are bad outlaws; and some good sheriffs hang out with outlaws. That about sums this movie up. Oh, and I almost forgot that practically every real outlaw ever mentioned in cowboy movies is in this film...even though there is no historical evidence they were together in the period of lawlessness in what became the Oklahoma panhandle.

    So, is there any reason to watch this confusing mess? Well, yes. Gabby Hayes, certainly the best cowboy sidekick in the business, is prominent in the film...although not exactly as a sidekick, but rather as one of the orneriest of the bunch who seems to be treading a fine line between the good guys and the bad guys. And, it's still nice to watch Randolph Scott, even if the plot is shaky. And, one of my favorite character actors -- Ray Collins -- is along, although I don't see this as one of his better roles.

    There are lots better Westerns out there...and lots worse. This film is in that middle ground -- not memorable, but "decent" (at least in terms of keeping your interest). But this is FAR from "Rio Bravo" or "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence".
  • There are so Many Names of Outlaws and Such in this Murky Story of Bandits and Marshalls that in the End it is just One Big...Ho-Hum. This Western from RKO has a Good Look about it but what it's About is Anybody's Guess.

    Randolph Scott is OK but is Not the Stoic, Sombre Presence that He Assumed in the Budd Boetticher Classics. Here He is just Randolph Scott, Tall and Unwavering. The Cast has some Familiar Faces and some Not So Familiar to Casual Moviegoers.

    Gabby Hayes is just a Heartbeat from Irritating and is Most Effective with a Double Take Glance than with that Grovely, Grating Galoot of a Voice that is So Recognizable. He has Much to Do in this Mediocre Western and is as Good as Anybody here.

    There is a Boring Horse Race Among other Boring Things in this Long Story that is Never Woven Together Adequately. Lawrence Tierney is Wasted as Jesse James as is just about Everyone Else. The Movie Needs more Edge and more Grit, because as it Stands it is a Plate Full of Campfire Comfort that Almost Works but Ultimately is Nothing More than Name Dropping.