15 April 2015 | bkoganbing
The swaggering villainy of Dan Duryea
If it wasn't for the stiffness of lead Tony Young this film would rate really high in Hollywood B western history. As it is He Rides Tall gives us a memorable performance by Dan Duryea, a real masterpiece of swaggering villainy reminiscent of his Waco Johnny Dean from Winchester 73.
He Rides Tall combines elements of High Noon and The Man From Laramie in its plot. Marshal Tony Young encounters Dan Duryea a guy he put away several years earlier out from prison and now foreman of R.G. Armstrong's spread. He and Armstrong's punk son are bringing the cattle to market in town, but the son played by Carl Reindel starts trouble and Young is forced to kill him.
That's when Duryea makes his move with Armstrong's young and scheming wife Jo Morrow. He also captures Young and leaves him with a crippled gun hand, the better to have him fall victim to any gunslinger who wants to try him, he thinks.
I can't say more because what happens afterward is really too good to spoil. You will absolutely love the desserts Jo Morrow gets.
The other female part in He Rides Tall is Madelyn Rhue playing the Kitty Russell type saloon owner and fiancé of Marshal Young. He's supposed to be getting married to her, but all this business postpones the wedding. Unlike Grace Kelly in High Noon, Rhue has no Quaker scruples about violence when she aids her man in getting rid of one of Duryea's henchmen.
There's also an unusual part for Joel Fluellen as a doctor. Not too many black actors back then were cast as professional men. He's R.G. Armstrong's physician and he has an important function in this film.
I'm agreeing with the comment made by one viewer in that this could have been a film meant for Audie Murphy. Too bad he didn't do it.