DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
BAD LANDS (director: Lew Landers; screenwriters: story by Clarence Upson Young/; cinematographer: Frank Redman; editor: George Hively; music: Roy Webb; cast: Robert Barrat (Sheriff Bill Cummings), Addison Richards (Rayburn), Andy Clyde (Henry Cluff), Guinn "Big Boy" Williams (Billy Sweet), Francis Ford (Charlie Garth), Noah Beery, Jr. (Chick Lyman), Francis McDonald (Manuel Lopez), Douglas Walton (Mulford), Robert Coote (Eaton), Paul Hurst (Curly), John Payne (Apache Jack); Runtime: 70; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Sisk; RKO; 1939)

 
"A lesser remake of John Ford's Lost Patrol (1934). "

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

A lesser remake of John Ford's Lost Patrol (1934). Under the forceful direction of Lew Landers ("A Yank in Korea"/"Chain Gang"/"Jungle Jim in the Forbidden Land") the western kicks up some dust with a theme that the law (symbolized by the honorable sheriff) survives man's greed and bad nature. Clarence Upson Young bases the story and script on Philip MacDonald's novel Patrol. But the screenplay is weak and never clearly or convincingly conveys its rich theme of civilization as a biblical battleground over good and evil.

Set in the Arizona desert in 1875, a nine-man posse led by the incorruptible Sheriff Bill Cummings (Robert Barrat) is chasing down Apache Jack (John Payne), who killed the bride of Manuel Lopez (Francis McDonald). Other posse members besides a vengeful crazed Lopez include cowboys Rayburn (Addison Richards), Chic Lyman (Noah Beery, Jr.) and Billy Sweet (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams); a young  Easterner who thinks he's a Jonah (jinx to others) named Mulford (Douglas Walton); frontiersman Curly (Paul Hurst); Eaton (Robert Coote), an Englishman who was court martial-ed from the British army; and two eccentric prospectors named Cluff (Andy Clyde) and Garth (Francis Ford). The posse discover on the trail the body of an advanced scout, killed by Apache Jack for his horse. While deep in the desert's wasteland, by an oasis, the posse finds several skeletons near the watering hole, and Cluff and Garth find evidence nearby of a rich silver deposit. The prospect of becoming rich makes most of the men think only of possessing the riches. The men sleep by the silver deposit, but in the morning the horses and Eaton are missing. The sheriff soon realizes they are trapped by the Apaches and his men are being picked off one at a time through spats among themselves and from the Apaches. The sheriff kills Apache Jack when he comes out from behind the rocks to examine the graves of the dead posse, when thinking he killed off the posse, and then the sheriff with Mulford battles a group of Indians until only the sheriff is left alive. Afterwards the sheriff is rescued by the passing cavalry, and can only tell them the posse is all dead when asked where is his posse.

REVIEWED ON 10/25/2010       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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