25 December 2016 | Spikeopath
Legal Eagle and the Johnny Rebels.
El Paso is directed by Lewis R. Foster and Foster also adapts the screenplay from a story written by J. Robert Bren and Gladys Atwater. It stars John Payne, Gail Russell, Sterling Hayden, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Dick Foran, Eduardo Noriega, Henry Hull and Mary Beth Hughes. Music is by Darrell Calker and cinematography by Ellis W. Carter. Location filming is at the Iverson and Corrigan Ranches and El Paso and Gallup.
El Paso, and lawyer and ex-Confederate captain Clay Fletcher (Payne) is forced to go against his principles and go outside the law to bring order to the town. It's a town where the judge is alcoholic and manipulated by the corrupt sheriff and a nefarious landowner.
In the mix here is a very decent film, and certainly there's a story that if given a bit more meat could have been most potent. Unfortunately it's a bit choppy in its telling and execution, while the Cinecolor it was shot in looks washed out and cheapens still further what was already a picture being made without a big budget.
Thematically it's strong, there's a vigilante thread that's attention grabbing, with some nice suggestive shots used by the director, and a theme of ex-soldiers returning from the war - only to find their land and rights being vanquished by the self imposed powers that be - carries with it some pertinent sting. There's also some good humour in here, notably a running gag involving Hughes' Stagecoach Nellie.
Cast are fine, with Hayden and Payne fronting up for their fans, Hayes does another grand grizzled old coot turn, and Noriega, in spite of being under used, is excellent. Crude back projection work undermines some half decent action sequences, whilst the extended shoot-out finale is nicely played out during a dust storm - which may be to hide some flaws in the production? But regardless it has good effect.
Frustrating picture for sure, but for Western die-hards there's enough here to enjoy and not feel angry about. 6.5/10