CITY OF BADMEN (1953)

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Jeanne Crain gets top billing in this Fox color western but the star is Dale Robertson as Brett Stanton,the leader of a gang of mercenaries returning from Mexico. Brett’s brother Gar (Lloyd Bridges) is part of the gang.They arrive in Carson City as it is about to stage the World Championship Boxing match between Gentleman Jim Corbett and Bob Fitzsimmons.
John Ringo (Richard Boone) is another gunslinger in town with his men.

The prize they are after is the money being made from the fight ticket sales.
Jeanne Crain first appears 20 minutes into the film then disappears for another 25 minutes. She plays a former girlfriend of Brett’s and is about to marry the fight promoter.

A good basic  plot stretched out and quite slow. I lost interest .

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FORT DEFIANCE (1951)

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In contrast, I thoroughly enjoyed FORT DEFIANCE with Ben Johnson leading the cast as Ben Shelby, a Civil War veteran bent on revenge, as he tracks down Johnny Tallon (Dane Clark) who was responsible for deserting during the war and the subsequent death of Ben’s brother.
Ben arrives at the Tallon ranch and finds Johnny’s blind brother Ned (well played by a 25 year old Peter Graves) and uncle Charlie Tallon (George Cleveland).
Ned is awaiting Johnny’s return to help them run the ranch, though Charlie knows Johnny has been robbing banks.
Ben doesn’t tell them his real reason for being there and Ned accepts him as a friend of Johnny’s.
Ben has a wife waiting for him but he cant stop wanting revenge.
Johnny’s arrival sparks plenty of conflict.

A totally engrossing western, with four good leads. Dane Clark gets away from his usual serious,upright and often dull persona. He plays Johnny as a man who doesn’t care what people think of him – he knows he is faster on the draw. But he does care about his brother.
Ben Johnson’s character starts off with little on his mind except killing Johnny, but meeting and helping young Ned and Uncle Charlie changes him.
There’s little soundtrack music in this film and the lack of it adds to the drama.
Filmed in Gallup, New Mexico, the scenery in color is beautiful.
(I like Ben’s “flying dismounts” – he’s some rider.)

 

3 responses »

  1. Fair enough assessment of CITY OF BAD MEN and one I’d broadly agree with. I came to it expecting something a bit more gripping – the premise is an interesting one – but it does drag and never really held my attention.

  2. Yep! CITY OF BAD MEN should have been a lot better especially
    considering that cast.
    Totally agree with you Vienna, regarding FORT DEFIANCE a
    generally unheralded little Western but very rewarding.
    I thought the three leads worked very well together.

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