15 August 2012 | Michael_Elliott
Great Cast but Tired Story
** (out of 4)
A strong cast keeps this by-the-numbers Western from falling completely off the track. Marshall Chaddock (Barry Sullivan) arrives in a small Montana town that has the land owners moving because of a crooked gambler named Marlowe (Wendell Corey). The Marshall makes the people stay on their land while he tries to defeat the greedy man at his own game. BUCKSKIN is an old fashioned Western that featured a story that would tire people in the 1930s let alone in 1968. This is a hard film to enjoy because of how boring it all it but at the same time there's no question that it features a strong cast of veteran actors. The biggest problem with the film is the fact that the story itself is just something we've seen hundreds of times in countless "B" Westerns and not a single new thing is done with it here. Even worse is that most "B" films got this story told in less than a hour but the story here is padded down with so much junk that the 97-minute running time seems twice that. There are so many simple scenes that get dragged out to the point where you'll be wanting to cry as well as ask the screenwriter what the point was. Sullivan is good in the lead as he delivers a strong performance and Corey is a downright delight as the snake who will stop at nothing to win. Joan Caulfield plays a former school teacher turned prostitute trying to win back some dignity. John Russell plays another snake with perfection and we also have Barbara Hale, Leo Gordon and Bill Williams turning in fine support. Lon Chaney, looking extremely bad from his personal issues and declining health, still manages to deliver a great performance as the disgraced Sheriff. Chaney appears to be having a blast getting to play the bad guy. BUCKSKIN is a film that most people will want to skip but if you're a fan of these names then you might want to check it out once.