DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

GUNSIGHT RIDGE (director: Francis D. Lyon; screenwriters: Elizabeth and Talbot Jennings; cinematographer: Ernest Laszlo; editor:  Ellsworth Hoagland/Robert Golden; music:  David Raskin; cast: Mark Stevens (Velvet Clark), Joel McCrea (Mike Ryan), Joan Weldon (Molly Jones), Addison Richards (Sheriff Tom Jones), George Chandler (Gus Withers), Max Slaten (Alex), Robert Griffin (Babcock),  Herb Vigran (R. B. Davis, Justice of the peace), Slim Pickens (Hank), Stanford Jolly (Shelley Daggett), Hank Patterson (George Clark), Darlene Fields (Rosa), Carolyn Craig (girl at ranch), Nora O'Mahony (Mrs. Donahue), Morgan Woodward (Lazy Heart rancher),  L.Q. Jones (Lazy Heart rancher), Jim Foxx  (Lazy Heart rancher), Steve Mitchell  (Lazy Heart rancher), Dan Blocker (bartender); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Robert Bassler; UA; 1957)

"Routine B-western, shot in B/W and directed in a lackluster way."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Routine B-western, shot in B/W and directed in a lackluster way by Francis D. Lyon ("The Great Locomotive Chase"/"The Destructors"/"Cult of the Cobra"). It's written by Elizabeth and Talbot Jennings. They shoot for many different angles on how to tell their outlaw tale, but after spending too much time to let us know the outlaw is a frustrated pianist who dropped out of the musical world and into crime because he couldn't afford piano lessons (yikes!), move on to fully exploit the heroics and Irish romantic moves of the charming middle-aged Joel McCrea. He can still act but doesn't seem physically believable playing a rough  lawman.

At the train stop in the Arizona desert town of Soldier Springs, travelers Molly Jones (Joan Weldon), the sheriff's daughter, Shelley Daggett (Stanford Jolly), the publisher of the Dispatch, and the mysterious passenger, Mike Ryan (Joel McCrea), get off the train to take the stagecoach to Bancroft. On the trail they're robbed by two outlaws, one of them (Max Slaten) during the robbery has his bandana mask slip off and is recognized by the stage coach driver (Slim Pickens). After breaking open the strongbox the careless accomplice is killed by the ruthless leader Velvet (Mark Stevens).

The elderly sheriff, Tom Jones (Addison Richards), a man of great pride, is told by the town's leading citizens--saloon owner George Clark (Hank Patterson), the banker Babcock (Robert Griffin), who was just robbed, and the publisher--that they want his badge for getting too old and failing to catch the outlaw and threaten to call for a Wells Fargo special agent. That's when Ryan announces he's an undercover agent and convinces them to allow the sheriff to work with him in the investigation, giving him a chance to go out on his own terms. The sheriff feels he can't quit till he gets the outlaw, saying he wouldn't be able to live with himself after such a disgrace to his distinguished career of always getting his man.

Velvet poses as a respectable mine owner, staying at the same boarding house as Ryan. When the sheriff encounters the slimy Velvet at his mine trying to flee on horseback with the bank money hid in his dynamite storage boxes, the sheriff is murdered. While fleeing, Velvet witnesses the four unruly cowboys from The Lazy Heart ranch rob a train he wanted to rob and follows them to the border town of Clarksville. Velvet manages to steal the train loot from a local judge (Herb Vigran) who had the townies capture the train robbers for the reward money, but is chased to Gunsight Ridge by the pursuing Ryan and killed on the mountain in a gun fight. Ryan has won the heart of Molly and stays on as sheriff, replacing her dad.

REVIEWED ON 10/1/2013       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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