Directed by Allan Dwan
Written by Karen de Wolf
Benedict Bogeaus Productions
#267 of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
I think this so-so Western is one of the more baffling entries on the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die List.
Ned McCarty (Dan Duryea) rides into the town of Silver Lode looking for Dan Ballard (John Payne). McCarty says Ballard shot his brother in the back and stole $20,000 from him and is wanted dead or alive. McCarty has made it his mission as U.S. Marshall over the last two years to apprehend or kill his brother’s murderer.
McCarty’s first run-in with Ballard is at the latter’s wedding to Rose Evans (Lizbeth Scott). All the wedding guests are on Ballard’s side. The town lawyer goes to the judge to get a writ of habeus corpus for Ballard but the judge says McCarty’s papers are in order and there is nothing he can do. Ballard pleads for a couple of hours to get in touch with the authorities in the town where the alleged murder took place. It turns out that the telegraph wires have been cut.
McCarty is a master manipulator and sees that the townspeople become more and more suspicious of Ballard. By the end, the only person on his side is his steadfast finacee.
This is OK as far as it goes but nothing special. It does not help that the hero is a fairly weak actor and the heroine is completely miscast. I can see the possible analogy to McCarthyism but we’ve had that story infinitely better told in High Noon. I could have died without seeing this one.