24 November 2014 | kevinolzak
Dale Robertson and Lon Chaney
Producer A.C. Lyles is chiefly remembered today for the series of 13 B-Westerns done for Paramount from late 1963-late 1967. A former publicist for the studio, Lyles knew many of Hollywood's greatest stars, and got his start as a film producer after James Cagney agreed to direct 1957's "Short Cut to Hell." In 1963, he began a series of Westerns generally shot in 10-14 days, often back to back then issued months apart, with "Law of the Lawless," successful enough as a second feature to spawn a dozen more. Like all those that followed, the veteran cast provides the greatest interest, in both major and minor roles, a spate of stories where the good guys win out over the bad in the end, no longer viable by the next decade, the nihilistic 70s. "Law of the Lawless" makes for a decent start, with Dale Robertson (TALES OF WELLS FARGO) as Judge Clem Rogers, whose latest assignment in Stone Junction Kansas has him deciding the fate of old friend Pete Stone (John Agar), whose father Big Tom (Barton MacLane) wields great power among the townsfolk, and believes his son was involved in a fair shootout. The old pros were as happy to get the work as Lyles was to have them: still sexy Yvonne De Carlo as the saloon girl sweet on the judge, William Bendix as the wounded sheriff, Bruce Cabot as hired gunman Joe Rile, Richard Arlen as Bartender Ben, Kent Taylor as Pete's Kansas City defense attorney, Bill Williams as a wheelchair-bound witness to the alleged crime (the last half hour takes place in the courtroom). Special billing as 'Tiny' goes to veteran Western heavy Lon Chaney, in typical form as Pete Stone's main henchman, assaulting poor Yvonne as he tries to persuade her to implicate the high and mighty Judge in a seamy scandal; and just like his character in his earliest Lyles production, "Albuquerque" (Randolph Scott), never loses the cigarette dangling from his lips! Leonard Maltin disparagingly referred to the series in general as being only 'for buffs who want to play spot the star,' but they still endure in the 21st Century, even as the Old West recedes further into the past.