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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Western Movie Review - Law and Order 1953

It's kinda' weird watching a Ronald Regan movie - here in the UK Reagan was portrayed as a buffonish President by the satirical puppet show, Spitting Image and every time I here Reagan talk I get a mental image of his puppet cuddled up with Margaret Thatcher. It took a little while to shake that image from my mind but when I did I found that I quite enjoyed this action packed western.

In a story that owes much to the legend of Wyatt Earp, Reagan plays Frame Johnson a sharp shooting Marshall who brings The Durango Kid into Tombstone for a fair trial, however when he has to fend off a lynch mob, which includes his own deputy he decides enough is enough and hands in his badge. He decides he wants to start a new life as a rancher in the town of Cottonwood and together with his two brothers he leaves Tombstone. The love of Frame's life, saloon girl Jeannie (Dorothy Malone) is to join Frame at a later date when he has his ranch up and running.

However Frame discovers that Cottonwood is every bit as deadly as Tombstone. The town is run by Kurt Darling, an old enemy of Frame's who hold the town sheriff in the palm of his hand. Soon there is conflict and the town judge offers the job of Marshall to Frame but he declines. Frame's younger brother Lute takes the job but is soon gunned down - there is only one thing for it and the future President of the United States does what a man has to do, and cleans up town.

This is a great western which whilst not up there with the classics of the genre, it is a pretty good movie - straightforward, predictable but entertaining enough. The colour photography is stunning and the action scenes are very well handled. It's a remake of an 1932 western of the same title which starred Walter Houston in the role of Frame Johnson and I can't compare the two because I've never seen the earlier version.

Director Nathan Juran is better known for such cult classics as, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and the 7th Voyage of Sinbad, but he certainly seems at home in the western genre and he keeps this movie moving at a fine pace. The climax is real stirring stuff and of course we have the then obligatory Hollywood happy ending.

Not a classic but no turkey either...I rather enjoyed this one. It's just a pity the DVD is basically a vanilla release with nothing in the way of special features, not even a trailer.

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