27 September 2006 | aimless-46
Not So Much Bad as it is Strange
The title must have been left over from something Republic did not release; it certainly does not fit this western. It can't be referring to wimpy Marshall Landry (Vaughn Monroe who is hardly leading man material), or to outlaw Frank Girard (Victor Jory) who can't even outfight the Marshall.
Along with the title disconnect is a story not so much bad as it is strange. The Marshall, a widower with two children, picks up a couple more when he discovers them in the desert following an Indian attack. Also surviving is Mary Kimber (Joan Leslie), who thinks her husband was killed in the attack. This sets up quite a few scenes of domestic bliss as Monroe gets to do what he does best-sing ballads around the piano. The producers recognized that they had something here and gave a lot of time to this domestic angle and the growing attraction between Mary and the Marshall.
Unfortunately there is a side story about a bunch of criminal brothers and Mary's husband (a very young Harry Morgan) who ran away during the Indian attack and is very much alive. Morgan has fun playing one of the most cowardly characters ever to grace the sagebrush. Charlita plays a saloon girl called Senorita who appears to be feeble minded and slightly nuts.
The action sequences are extremely weak, mostly second unit long shots in the desert cut into close-ups shot back on the sound stage. Unfortunately the tone and brightness of the backgrounds do not match and everything looks rather stupid. Which is a good word for Frank Girard who at one point gets the drop on the Marshall but inexplicably fails to disarm him (duh).
Jean Parker does a good job as Della the saloon dancer and Frank's girlfriend. Leslie and Parker are both excellent actresses and one wonders why they signed on to this movie. But at least it provides one more opportunity to see them in a film. Diana Christian does a good job as the Marshall's teenage daughter and they go out on a cute little bit with her commentary on the relationship between her father and Mary.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.