|BULLWHIP (director: Harmon Jones; screenwriter: Adele Buffington; cinematographer: John Martin; editor: Thor Brooks; music: Leith Stevens; cast: Guy Madison (Steve Daley), Rhonda Fleming (Cheyenne Julie O'Malley), James Griffith ('Slow' Karp), Dan Sheridan (Podo), Don Beddoe (Judge Carr), Peter Adams (John Parnell), Burt Nelson (Pine Hawk); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: William Broidy; Allied Artists; 1958)|
|"More of a strained romantic
comedy than a B western."
by Dennis Schwartz
more of a romantic comedy than a western
of a strained romantic comedy than a B western. It's
a Taming of the Shrew inspired comedy, that is
handled in too farcical a manner to smoothly work.
But even if it isn't exactly Shakespeare, it is
nevertheless somewhat interesting. Too bad its lead
actor Guy Madison is so wooden and shows no
inclination for comedy.
Jones ("As Young as You
Feel"/"The Kid From Left Field"/"Canyon River") does a
decent enough job directing. Martin makes good use of
the location shots with his fine CinemaScope
photography. The always adept writer Adele
Buffington turns in a workable screenplay, in
her last ever film script.
innocent Steve Daley (Guy Madison) is set to hang for
a murder he did not commit because the corrupt Judge
Carr (Don Beddoe) rigged false
evidence against him. The judge, in the 11th hour,
visits and says that he will reverse the guilty
verdict if Steve agrees to a marriage of convenience
with a mystery part-Cheyenne woman (Rhonda
Fleming) and then he must immediately
leave her. The tale told is that her husband just died
and she must be married to collect a substantial
inheritance that stipulates in her father's will that
she is to be married before collecting. Cheyenne
wields the bullwhip of the title.
is told to sign a blank marriage
certificate, which will ensure that he does not know
his bride's real name. After the wedding
ceremony they kiss and she disappears into a carriage.
While in the street as a free man, carrying the
judge's affidavit, a gunslinger named Karp (James
Griffith) fires at him but misses. To the
rescue comes Steve's pal Podo
outside of town Steve and Podo meet the
untrustworthy John Parnell (Peter
Adams), the owner of a rival fur trading
company. He informs the innocents that
Cheyenne is an Indian
princess and a knowledgeable and ambitious Irish
fur trader, who was forced into marriage to
conform with her father's will for inheritance.
John also states that under state law, Steve now owns
the O'Malley trading company. Parnell
offers Steve a large reward if he can get Cheyenne
to guarantee his supply wagons free passage through
Indian country and he offers Karp, who will use an
alias, $5,000 to protect Steve as they
ride with Cheyenne's wagons to her home
in Sheridan, Wyoming. Now the plot thickens, as on the
trail the heroine will succumb to her hubby's charms
in their attempt to be a real couple.
too little action for a Western and the 1950s
restraints on marriage giving men the complete
upper-hand seemed out-dated, nevertheless a touch of
the Bard in a B western can't be all bad.
REVIEWED ON 1/22/2015 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ
By today's standards "Bullwhip" is very wrong, it is sexist, racist and to be honest quite cheesy but this convoluted western which sees Rhonda Fleming playing a tough trail boss being tamed by a man she marries to inherit her father's business is also entertaining. In fact whilst a western by setting "Bullwhip" has more in common with a romantic comedy as Steve Daley tries to tame his wife whilst she tries to fight him every step of the way. There is more to it than that with a gunman who finds himself hired by one man to kill Daley and then by another to protect him whilst there are also a couple of dodgy business men to convolute things. But at its heart "Bullwhip" is all about Daley taming his wife and the comedy of it all.
With it looking like he is facing the hangman's noose Steve Daley (Guy Madison - The Last Frontier) gets an unusual proposition from the town's judge. If he marries a woman without asking any questions or knowing her name he will receive a pardon and can go on his way. Understandably agreeing Steve meets the nameless woman and as soon as she has gone plans to get on his way, except a gunman called 'Slow' Karp (James Griffith) is waiting to kill him. Having avoided Karp, Daley then finds himself in the company of fur trader John Parnell (Peter Adams) who tells Steve that he has been tricked into marrying his rival fur trader Cheyenne (Rhonda Fleming - Gunfight at the O.K. Corral) and cuts a deal to try and get his hands on half of her business. And so Steve goes in search of the fiercely independent Cheyenne to claim what is rightfully his, not so much her but the business she inherited when she married him.
So as already mentioned "Bullwhip" is more akin to a romantic comedy than a true western and the set up really establishes this as we see Daley approached by a corrupt judge to marry a woman in return for a pardon to save him from the hang man's noose. It's daft and purposefully so and as are all the details such as the story the judge gives him about the woman being a widow and so he doesn't try and track her down after their arranged marriage he's not allowed to know her name. It's not all out comedy, there is no slapstick or major jokes but funny for basically being unbelievable.- See more at: http://www.themoviescene.co.uk/reviews/bullwhip/bullwhip.html#sthash.HtMQWSAo.dpuf