10 August 2012 | dougdoepke
This otherwise routine western has two things going for it—great red rock scenery and William Talman as the cavalry captain. The scenery speaks for itself, but it's Talman's committed performance that lifts the human element. He makes his by-the-book officer utterly believable. Couple that with his screen time and it's really he who has the starring role. Too bad he settled into his long-running D.A. role on Perry Mason; then too, despite his semi-good guy role here, no one from that era could do bug-eyed psychos as well as Talman.
At the same time, it's too bad Andrews couldn't get motivated for his role. He pretty much picks up a paycheck and leaves it at that. But then a Universal western is a comedown for this former TCF movie star, and it shows. It's also pretty much a ditto for Laurie who tags along in indifferent fashion, this not surprisingly being her last film for Universal. Good thing the supporting cast includes so many capable, familiar faces— Stone, Wilke, Jones—to help save the acting day.
Frankly, the plot seems more complicated than the script could lucidly handle, then again, maybe that's just me. But one thing with most westerns—you can enjoy the scenery and action without having to follow the plot. And that appears the case here. On the whole, the centerpiece action on the river is well done with only a few blended process shots. And boy, I really jumped when the one boat suddenly struck a rock in totally realistic fashion.
Anyway, as a western, the movie has its compensations without being anything special.