10 September 2012 | boblipton
Allied Artist Westerns -- a Step Up
As Monogram Pictures morphed into Allied Artists, they tried to raise the quality of their projects. As the demand for their B westerns disappeared, they hired some good actors -- among them the incomparable Edmond O'Brien -- and produced this western, directed by long-time Western director Lesley Selander.
I wasn't expecting O'Brien to be convincing as a cowboy, but he is astonishingly good as an ex-cowpoke who is building an express business -- and given a huge oversupply of cattle, he's shipping an awful lot of tallow and hide, all the scrubs are good for. There's a lot more history intelligently explained here than is usual for a B western, the photography is crisp and clean and there are fine supporting actors carrying the roles -- John Millicam is particularly affecting in, for him, a large role.
Selander directs very efficiently -- you can tell that villain Barton Maclane shot his interiors in a block and the action sequences near Lone Pine, where Selander spent most of his professional career are handled to advantage.
The net effect is that everything is much better than a B western, yet the obvious economies make it at best a shaky A. Still, overall it is a superior effort and worthwhile for western fans and a surprisingly unexpected sidetrack for Edmond O'Brien.