EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|FORT DEFIANCE (director: John Rawlins; screenwriter: Louis Lantz; cinematographer: Stanley Cortez; editor: Thomas Pratt; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Dane Clark (Johnny Tallon), Peter Graves (Ned Tallon), Ben Johnson (Ben Shelby), George Cleveland (Uncle Charlie Tallon), Tracey Roberts (Julie Morse), Iron Eyes Cody (Brave Bear), Craig Woods (Dave Parker), Bryan Hightower (Hankey), Dnnis Moore (Lt. Lucas); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Frank Melford; United Artists; 1951)|
revenge action-packed western."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
John Rawlins ("Sudan"/"Sherlock
Holmes and the Voice of Terror"/"Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome") directs this exciting revenge
action-packed western that piles on the melodramatics, adds on a
contrived unconvincing romance, has a predictable climactic shootout
with the film's villain and also manages to get in the familiar western
sequence of Indians circling a stagecoach that is rescued by the
Cavalry. Cinematographer Stanley Cortez's lush visuals
captures the beauty of the Arizona desert; while Louis Lantz's uneven script falters at
times with melodramatics that are not all that convincing,
but overall is decent writing for a B-film.
It's set in the town of Fort Defiance, Arizona at the end
of the Civil War. Ben Shelby (Ben
Johnson) was a member of the Union Army's volunteer Arizona unit and
was the only survivor at Tennessee Ridge, where his brother died. The
battle came three months before the war ended. The reason the men lost
their lives was because Johnny Tallon (Dane Clark) deserted rather than deliver a message for
Ben decides to go after
Johnny rather than return straight home to his wife. He arrives at
Johnny's remote desert ranch outside of Fort Defiance and encounters
Johnny's younger blind brother Ned (Peter Graves) and his elderly Uncle
Charlie (George Cleveland). He befriends both and learns in town
that Johnny died while robbing a bank. The neighboring Navajos under
chief Brave Bear (Iron Eyes Cody) steal the Tallon's cattle, and they go on
the warpath because they have been ordered to a reservation in the
Ben agrees to Uncle Charlie's
offer to be partners on their good grazing ranch, but Uncle Charlie is
killed by the ruthless saloon owner Dave Parker (Craig Woods) whose brothers were killed in the same
volunteer Arizona unit as the one Johnny deserted. Charlie nobly
sacrificed his life so Ned and Ben can escape, as Ben takes him to
Navajo Canyons where Parker's men refuse to enter because of the Indian
threat. When Johnny shows up alive at his ranch with his outlaw partner
Hankey (Bryan Hightower), they kill two of Parker's men who are
there as part of a burial detail and the third is sent to tell Parker
that Johnny's back.
Johnny joins his now
disillusioned brother at the Navajo Canyons and we witness the
following: a few fistfights between Johnny and Ben, Johnny offering to
give his brother $5,000 he got from the robbery to go to San Francisco
to get an eye operation but is turned down, a stage attacked by the
Indians, one of the passengers is a saloon whore with a heart of gold
named Julie (Tracey Roberts) who was given a ticket out of
town by the decent ladies in town, and Ned blindly falling in love with
the dance hall gal and nearly proposing while the Indians are attacking.
When the boys survive the Indian attack and are back in Fort Defiance, Parker and his men have a shoot-out with Johnny. Everything ends in a pat way, as all the bad guys get what's coming to them and all the good guys get what they deserve.
REVIEWED ON 9/28/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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