23 March 2000 | BrianG
Outstanding little Republic "B"
A very good performance by a young John Derek, an outstanding performance by veteran Bob Steele, beautiful scenery stunningly photographed, and action-packed, razor-sharp direction by an old pro at the top of his form make this one of the best "B" westerns to come out of Republic Pictures, which specialized in them and did them better than any other studio did. Derek plays a young man who returns home after his father dies to claim the ranch that was stolen from him, and runs into more trouble than he bargained for. Steele, a major western star in the '30s and '40s, had aged out of leading man roles and settled into character parts, often playing--as he does here--a cold-blooded gunman (watch Humphrey Bogart's 1951 "The Enforcer" to see Steele as a hired killer par excellance). He was such a good actor that he was as effective in these roles as he was in his younger days as a cowboy hero. The cast is full of familiar western faces--Jim Davis, Ben Cooper, James Millican, Slim Pickens--and ace director William Witney uses them all to their best advantage. The blazing gun battles are expertly staged, and the film as a whole moves like lightning. All in all, an expertly made, thoroughly enjoyable little "B" western, more entertaining than many films that cost 50 times as much. Highly recommended.