DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE HAWK OF POWDER RIVER (director: Ray Taylor; screenwriter: George Smith; cinematographer: Ernie Miller; editor:  Joe Gluck; music: Eddie Dean; cast: Eddie Dean (Deputy Marshal Eddie Dean, Roscoe Ates (Soapy Jones), June Carlson (Carole Chambers), Steve Clark (Bill Chambers), Jennifer Holt (Vivian), Eddie Parker (Cochrane), Terry Frost (Mitchell, henchman); Runtime: 54; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jerry Thomas; Producer Releasing Corporation/Eagle-Lion Films; 1948)

"Well, you can knock me down with tumbleweed, the outlaw leader of a ruthless gang in the lawless Old West is a lady called the Hawk."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Well, you can knock me down with tumbleweed, the outlaw leader of a ruthless gang in the lawless Old West is a lady called the Hawk. Ray Taylor ("Law And Order"/"The Daltons Ride Again"/"The Vigilantes Return") respectfully directs this routine oater, with singing cowboy Eddie Dean as star. His best number is the Black Hills. George Smith turns in the screenplay for the busy B-western.

In the frontier town of Powder River, a gang led by the Hawk is terrorizing the community: robbing mines, stagecoaches and payroll deliveries. When crusading editor George Daniels is killed by the gang, deputy marshal Eddie Dean is called from Tombstone. While en-route Eddie discovers a four-man gang is waiting in ambush to kill the stagecoach passenger Carole Chambers (June Carlson), the graduating schoolgirl who is returning to her father Bill's (Steve Clark) ranch. In town, after the rescue, Eddie meets sidekick Soapy (Roscoe Ates), who went on ahead, and is informed by the crooked family lawyer Cochrane (Eddie Parker) that Carole's dad is dead due to an explosion at his ranch. We learn he was killed by the gang when he discovered they were using a cave on his ranch property as a hideout. It's further learned that the vic's niece Vivian (Jennifer Holt), who is staying on the ranch, is secretly the Hawk and her aim is to kill both her uncle and his daughter and inherit the richest ranch in the territory. Though the gang was recruited with the help of her boyfriend Cochrane, Vivian has other ambitions than marrying him now.

Eddie and Soapy stay at the ranch as workers to keep an eye on the vulnerable Carole, and thereby discover that Vivian is friendly with only the bad cowhands on the H-Bar 2 Ranch. Their spying enables them to soon get a bead on the gang and set a trap over a lost cowboy hat during a payroll robbery.

No tension is ever created, as the simplistic film, though well-executed for a B-western, never has much of a sparkle and fails to hold interest. The star lacks the charisma to be a star and his medley of songs are all forgettable. That criticism also goes for the song by the singing cowhands, Andy Parker and 'The Plainsmen," who sing around a campfire.

REVIEWED ON 8/13/2013       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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