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  • The Lone Hand is a western with a twist to it. We've seen many films from a child's perspective but usually from a distance. In fact one of Joel McCrea's best films Stars In My Crown is narrated by Marshall Thompson as a grownup Dean Stockwell. But here we have Jimmy Hunt playing Joel McCrea's son narrating as well registering all the child's conflicting emotions about an idealized father who is not living up to his expectations. And Hunt registers those emotions well.

    McCrea who's a widower and his son Jimmy Hunt arrive in a new place, one that's been at the mercy of an outlaw gang that no one can catch. On the day McCrea arrives in town and purchases land for a farm, the sheriff is killed by these outlaws.

    Still McCrea goes ahead with his plans starts working his land and even takes a beautiful bride in Barbara Hale. But soon enough a very curious Hunt sees his father consorting with outlaws and participating in their crimes. It's all pretty traumatic.

    I won't say more other than you know McCrea is a good guy. Joel McCrea was probably the noblest of all cowboy heroes and noble in other genres as well. He could never be a bad guy, in fact he wouldn't hear of being cast any other way in his career.

    As for Jimmy Hunt this situation is also parallel to that classic science fiction film he starred in, Invaders From Mars where the young boy sees his parents betraying his ideals because they're under the control of the Martians. And these films probably represent Jimmy Hunt's career roles.

    Good roles they are too.
  • It may be a B-Western, but Universal popped for some of the best scenery (southwestern Colorado) found in any Western, A or B. I really liked the story's first part, dealing with topics seldom found in any oater—like raising money to buy a farm, horses, a wagon, plus making a home without a woman. In other words, elements of real frontier life too unexciting for most horse operas. But then the plot turns into more conventional cops and robbers, which is okay but hardly memorable.

    Telling the story from the boy's point of view is a helpful touch—that way we understand the changes he and his dad are going through. Little Jimmy Hunt is excellent as young Joshua, looking like a real kid instead of a Hollywood charmer. And of course there's McCrea. No cowboy actor gave off an air of quiet nobility better than this underrated actor. Always low-key, he never swaggered like many of his peers or called undue attention to his character. Yet he could exert a quietly persuasive authority when necessary, made more effective by that low-key background. In my little book, he's one of the best of all cowboy actors.

    Anyway, it's a good little Western distinguished by the stunning, well-photographed alpine scenery.
  • The Lone Hand is directed by George Sherman and written by Joseph Hoffman and Irving Ravetch. It stars Joel McCrea, Barbara Hale, Alex Nicol, Charles Drake, Jimmy Hunt and Jim Arness. A Technicolor production with cinematography by Maury Gertsman and music by Joseph Gershenson.

    Zachary Hallock (McCrea), a hard working single parent, begins to destroy his sons love for him when he gives way to temptation and starts operating as an outlaw. But things are never as they seem in the town of Timberline.......

    Unassuming 50s Oater with a twist in the tale and sumptuous photography around genuine Colorado locations. In essence it's the same as a number of "B" Western productions that filtered through the studio system in this particular decade, where small budgets were often overcome by good performances and integrity of script. The Lone Hand is told from a young boys point of view, with young Joshua Hallock (Hunt) even narrating to ensure the morality POV of the family drama hits the right spots. A turn of events in Ravetch's story will either annoy or pleasantly surprise you, but pic is never less than interesting and action is well marshalled by Sherman; who in turn is well served by the stunt men. The principal actors on show are engaging, especially an excellent Hale, Gershenson scores it with vibrant Western tones, while Gertsman's wonderful lensing of the scenery (Durango/Silverton) is reason enough for Western fans to seek this one out. 6/10
  • MarioB29 January 2001
    Typical 1950's studio western movie. Simple and warm story that can please the kids of that era, when they go to the movie house saturday afternoon. Here, a young boy, who had great admiration for his dad, discovers that the old man is an outlaw. That breaks his heart, of course. But the dad had some secrets... In fact, he's a spy for the law, and he's riding with two outlaws to knows who's the boss of the gang (and, of course, that man is an important citizen of the village.) Joel McCrae, that great great actor of western, did a very fine job in this pleasant B-Movie flick.
  • This is the untold story of the secret of outlaw empire that ruled the Rockies, concerning a father called Zack Haller , Joel McCrea, and his son Joshua, Jimmy Hunt, arrive in a little town that is being victimized by a gang of heinous bandits , and there they create a farm . In the way McCrea meets a beautiful young woman and marries her. Along the way McCrea enlists a militia but he undercovering joins a dangerous gang of outlaws who are assaulting and robbing .They sent Zack Hallett to do the job no man had lived to finish! THE MAN WITH THE NAME THAT NOBODY KNEW!

    Decent film starred by usual Western hero Joel McCrea, displaying thrills, action, go riding, a family story and gorgeous outdoors from Rocky mountains. Here McCrea gives an acceptable acting in his usual style as the widowed farmer who secretly joins a nasty gang who is terrorizing the community, while his son, the sympathetic Jimmy Hunt plays the little boy who doesn't understand why his daddy has decided to become himself a bandit. Furthermore, Barbara Hale performs his love interest and future wife who doesn't suspect the activities his hubby. Support cast is frankly excellent, plenty of familiar faces as Alex Nicol, Charles Drake, James Arness, Roy Roberts, Frank Ferguson, among others.

    It packs a thrilling and exciting musical score by Henry Mancini and Herman Stein, though uncredited. Besides, special mention for excellent photography by cameraman Maury Gertsman shot on location in wonderful exteriors. Being magnificently filmed in the splendor of the Colorado Rockies in Las Animas River Gorge, Durango Colorado, Molas Lake, Silverton, Aztec, New Mexico, and Universal studios, City Plaza, Universal city, California. The motion picture was professionally directed by George Sherman. He was a good artisan who shot a lot of films. Filming movies of all kinds of genres from the Forties to Sixties. At his beginning he worked as a filmmaker assistant in Warner Brothers production. He was subsequently hired by Republic to make short budget movies as the Three Musketeers series. Then Sherman turned out reliable B movies for Columbia between 1945 to 48, and after that, he moved to Universal for another 8 years. Along the way he made loads of Westerns such as Smoky, The last of the fast guns, The sombrero Kid, Death valley outlaws, Gun sheriff, The phantom cowboy, Lone star raiders, Frontier vengeance, The Tulsa kid, Ghost valley raiders, Cowboys from Texas Crazy Horse, Comanche, Treasure of Pancho villa. And he made two A-films starred by John Wayne : Comancheros and Big Jack. He made some pictures in Spain as Joaquin Murrieta, Buscame esa chica and La Nueva Cenicienta with Robert Conrad. Rating 6.5/10. Enjoyable and agreeable Western, especially appointed for kiddies .
  • A good Western movie. Excellent acting especially by Barbara Hale and Jimmy Hunt. No one knows that Joel McCrea is working undercover. His son (Jimmy Hunt) believes he is an outlaw and so does his bride (Barbara Hale). Lots of action and twists and turns.
  • Joel McCrea and his motherless son, Jimmy Hunt, head out to Colorado to buy a farm. They seem to be making a go of it, and things are good enough for McCrea to arrange to marry Barbara Hale, but then the crop fails. Miss Hale marries him anyway, but McCrea needs money. He hooks up with a couple of stagecoach robbers.

    It's one of Universal's "shaky A" westerns, with George Sherman in charge of the shoot, and Maury Gertsman handling the cameras to show the Colorado Rockies in every handsome shot. Good story, too but I never saw a dog that clean.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Sometimes there are films that deliberately lead the viewers and several of the main characters in the wrong direction. When we reach the story's climax and denouement, we get a cheap excuse of an ending. Then, we replay the events of the story in our mind or we watch it again. But we realize just what a phony bill of goods we've been sold. The Lone Hand is one such item that should be returned for a full refund.

    Joel McCrea stars as a widowed western father who may not be all that he seems (and indeed, he isn't). The first twenty minutes or so of the film depict a loving relationship with his son and show his work as a struggling farmer in Colorado. But then, his crop is destroyed and he falls on hard times. Next thing we know, he has joined a group of outlaws and is now robbing stagecoaches. His young, impressionable son witnesses one of the robberies but is unable to turn dear old pa into the law.

    Meanwhile, there is a new woman in their lives (played by Barbara Hale). She marries McCrea and helps provide a home for the boy. But she is being lied to about her husband's criminal activity. When she finds out, she leaves him.

    Near the end of the story, we learn that McCrea was not really an outlaw (what?) and that he was– wait for it– a federal agent. Yes, he's a good guy after all. He was only pretending to go along with the robberies to help catch the mastermind of the gang. However, this plot resolution does not work, because we have seen him repeatedly clobber stagecoach drivers over the head and he has been involved in a series of vicious killings. Would a government man actually have to go through with murder in order to convince outlaws he is one of them? Also, as Hale's character says, why did he have to put his son through such gut-wrenching conflict about having a pa who was a bad man?

    While the twists and turns of the story make The Lone Hand unpredictable, it would appear that the screenwriter is asking the audience to accept too much. We also know that McCrea cannot really be bad, because it goes against his typical western movie persona to be anything but the wholesome hero.

    There are other problems with the production of the film. In one scene, the boy's wagon turns over and it is obvious that an adult stuntman has been used. Were there no short stuntmen or nearly teenage stuntmen to pull that scene off more realistically? There is also another sequence where the boy mistakes a gang member for his father and leads him into a gorge and causes the man to fall to his death. It has been assumed that the boy did not get a good look at the man's face and thought it was his father in familiar clothing. But in earlier scenes featuring the outlaw (played by James Arness) he clearly has only one outfit, and it is nothing like the one outfit that McCrea wears throughout the picture.

    The Lone Hand is a picture that even the most casual viewer wants to like. The beautiful on- location cinematography in Durango, Colorado almost makes up for the shortcomings. And McCrea's chemistry with Hale is enjoyable to watch. But despite these more favorable elements, there are too many flaws in THE LONE HAND to actually call it a good picture, which is a shame.
  • A solid western with a twist told from a child's POV. James Aeneas from gun smoke fame and the dependable Joel Mccrae deliver sublime performances with Barbara hale a la Perry mason adds her appearance as Joel's love interest.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There's a bit of sleight of hand going with this picture that doesn't reveal itself till near the end of the story. Otherwise it's fairly formulaic in the way Zachary Hallock (Joel McCrae) and his young son Joshua (Jimmy Hunt) settle onto a small ranch to begin life anew after Hallock becomes a widower. There's even the obligatory romantic interest (Barbara Hale) with a son of her own, who Zachary takes an interest in with a dubious purpose. The story manages to pull it off but you have to suspend some disbelief to get there.

    You know, there was one big question mark bothering me throughout the film that had me scratching my head. Why would Sarah Jane's (Hale) son Daniel (Wesley Morgan) be considered Joshua's uncle if Sarah and Zachary were married? The two boys kept that argument going until the end of the movie until they got it resolved between themselves, but to my mind they simply would have been step-brothers. How come no one else in the story could figure that out?

    And speaking of Daniel, how is it he disappeared from the Hallock household when the adults tied the knot? Anyone notice that? I guess the script writers wanted the story to stay focused on the father/son dynamic between Zachary and Joshua, but in hindsight the omission of Daniel in a bunch of situations is more than noticeable. Especially since Sarah seemed oblivious to it. At least he showed up again at the end of the picture to settle the 'uncle' thing with Josh.

    Hey, if you've never seen James Arness as a bad guy, here's your chance. He's not around very long though, taking that header off the cliff while chasing Joshua. I wonder what the outlaw would have done if he caught up to the kid. Seems the outcome would have been kind of gruesome.

    One thing the movie offers is some daring stunt work, the guy doing the under the stagecoach drag (a Yakima Canutt signature move) during one of the hold-ups did a remarkable job. However keep an eye on that scene when villain Jonah (Alex Nicol) lassos Joshua during a horse chase scene. The stunt rider in for Joshua is obviously bigger than the young actor was, and as Jonah's rope noose falls around the rider's neck, it mysteriously drops down to his waist in order to pull him off his horse. If you replay that scene, it's more than apparent, and you don't even have to watch it in slow motion.