6 November 2013 | hitchcockthelegend
Ah, The Bushwhackers, also known as The Rebel, a Western packed to the rafters with ever watchable actors, but unfurled like an amateur homage to Oaters a decade or so before.
Co-written and directed by Rod Amateau, and starring John Ireland, Dorothy Malone, Lawrence Tierney, Lon Chaney Junior, Myrna Dell, Wayne Morris and Jack Elam, film finds Ireland as Civil War veteran Jefferson Waring, who has vowed to never pick up a gun in anger again. However, upon wandering into the town of Independence, Missouri, he finds a town awash with sinister rumblings as Lon Chaney's Don Vito Corleone figure - backed by Dell's nefarious daughter - is plotting to own all the local land because the Railroad is coming and there's going to be a high premium placed on said land.
Cue Waring being pulled from emotional pillar to emotional post, with Malone batting her eyelids amidst a strong portrayal of feisty sexuality, until he takes up the good fight for the greater good in readiness for the finale that holds no surprises. There's a mean spirited edge to the plot which keeps things interesting and spicy, and although they are under used, having Tierney and Elam as thugs for hire is always a good thing, but it's directed and edited in such a cack - handed way there's little to no flow to the picture. Making it practically impossible to invest in the characterisations.
Unfortunately the DVD print provided by Elstree Hill is a disgrace, not even up to the standard of a VHS copy of a copy! A shame because through the gloom and scrambled fuzz of the transfer, you can see Joseph Biroc's noirish photography trying to break out. The actors make it worth a watch, in that Western fans can tick it off their lists, but nobody should be fooled into thinking there's an exciting picture here, or that it has observational intelligence about a scarred war veteran, because it has neither and Amateau's subsequent "non" career in film after this tells you all you need to know. 5/10