14 August 2012 | padutchland-1
A good Western made better by top character actors.
This movie is apparently very rare and out of print, as I do not see it available anywhere on the Internet. I was lucky to find it at a flea market in one of those cheaper looking yellow-sleeved Video Images Video Yesteryear VHS boxes. Generally, the movie is a Western about a tough, gun-handy cowboy named Steve Llewellyn (Rod Cameron) who wanders from Santa Fe into a New Mexico valley on the verge of big time cattle herd riches. The largest ranch is run by Hal Fenton (Morris Ankrum) and his hotheaded younger brother Randee. Fenton is determined to be the biggest all the way to the railroad spur and starts taking over smaller ranches by hook or crook. Llewellyn has violence in his past, which I do not believe is ever explained. Trying to mind his own business he ends up obtaining some hot lead from a Fenton ranch hand (Myron Healey). Then is found and nursed by female lead Cathy Downs playing Sharon Lynch living with her small rancher father Pete Lynch (Stanley Andrews). Cameron and Andrews end up going partners to buy the good range covered by SHORT GRASS that is no doubt how the movie obtained its title. To make a long story shorter, the middle of the movie has a good plot with Cameron linking up with some of the town folks led by none other than Johnny Mack Brown as the sheriff against the land grabbing Fenton. Not to give any more away, for fear of becoming a spoiler (although where the movie could be found I do not know), it is a back and forth struggle between (semi) good and evil. The movie was worth watching, still, I would have only rated it a six except for the outstanding shoot-em-up action at the end, which brought it up to at least a seven. OK, that is what the movie is about. I am now going to write a bit about the actors, which I think is important. This is strictly for those with an interest in actor's histories. This movie was made as good as it was by the character actors in it. The movie was loaded with character actors and I will name some further on. Rod Cameron in the lead was OK, but he has done better. Of the two leads, Cathy Downs was the winner hands down. In fact, she was an excellent actress in this and I wonder why she never became a big star. You may remember her as the lead in My Darling Clementine with Henry Fonda. Johnny Mack Brown was older here of course, but still doing a fairly good job. The real stars were the character actors. A good character actor carries many a movie and this one was chock-full of good character actors. Myron Healey had a shorter part but he was great as usual. You may not recognize the name but the face you would know. Morris Ankrum was the main bad guy and he was actually a university professor and lawyer before turning to movies. He often played the scientist in 1950's Sci-Fi's like Invaders From Mars and was the judge on the Perry Mason TV show. Raymond Walburn is another face easily recognized who played the doctor in this movie. Alan Hale, Jr. a character actor here, went on to become the Skipper on Gilligan's Island. Stanley Andrews became the Old Ranger himself on Death Valley Days. Then there was Jonathan Hale, Harry Woods (all time great bad guy), Tristram Coffin, Jeff York (Mike Fink on Disney's Davy Crockett), Lee Tung Foo, George J. Lewis (father of TVs Zorro and the man who led the Lone Ranger and other rangers into the big ambush) and others including a bit part by Kermit Maynard. Therefore, with all the character actors the movie is well worth seeing along with some very nice acting by Cathy Downs.