|POSSE FROM HELL (director: Herbert Coleman; screenwriter: Clair Huffaker/from the novel by Clair Huffaker; cinematographer: Clifford Stine; editor: Fred Knudtson; music: ; cast: Audie Murphy (Banner Cole), John Saxon (Seymour Kern), Zohra Lampert (Helen Caldwell), Rudolph Acosta (Johnny Caddo), Ray Teal (Banker), Paul Carr (Wiley), James Bell (Benson), Ward Ramsey (Marshal Webb), Royal Dano (Uncle Billy Caldwell), Vic Morrow (Crip), Robert Keith (Capt. Brown), Henry Wills (Chunk), Charles Horvath (Hash), Lee Van Cleef (Leo), Allan Lane (Burl Hogan), Frank Overton (Burt Hogan), Forrest Lewis (Doctor Welles); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Gordon Kay; Universal; 1961)|
|"The vistas are
beautifully photographed, as it's shot around Mount
Whitney. That's where the Hopalong Cassidy series
by Dennis Schwartz
Herbert Coleman ("Battle at Bloody Beach")
directs this routine Western that's based on the novel
by Clair Huffaker. The vistas are beautifully
photographed, as it's shot around Mount Whitney.
That's where the Hopalong Cassidy series filmed. The
pic is too schematic to be more than mildly diverting,
as it becomes too talky and hands out a series of
lectures on the trail when the action halts on how to
deal with evil, violence and people who are rotten.
It's final message is that there are enough good
people to be found, if you look hard enough.
In 1880 four unhinged
convicts serving time for murder, led by the snarling
Crip (Vic Morrow), bust out of the Sedona prison and
Arizona, rob the bank of $11,000, kill the marshal (Ward
Ramsey) and three
other citizens in cold-blood, and kidnap and rape a
shamed Helen Caldwell (Zohra Lampert). Town leader Benson (James
acknowledges the marshal's deathbed wish to deputize
his old gunslinger pal Banner Cole (Audie Murphy) to
lead a posse and thereby give him a chance to find
redemption for his errant ways.
Most townies chicken out,
so only seven sign on to join the hard-boiled
determined stranger's posse. Before long it's
determined that Captain Brown (Robert Keith), suffering an injury,
must be sent back because he's an incompetent
determined to lead the posse and does everything in
his power to wrest control from Cole and ruin the
mission. The kidnapped girl's Uncle Billy (Royal Dano)
takes her back to town when the psychologically
crushed vic is found acting suicidal in the desert.
Big talking gun crazy Wiley (Paul Carr) freezes during the action
and is shot dead, while Hogan (Frank Overton) returns to town after
Cole killed one of the outlaws. Hogan tries to justify
his retreat by claiming he was the one who got his
brother's killer and has no reason to ride any more
with the posse (the truth is that his brother's killer
is still on the loose). Soon the only ones left on the
posse are the good guys--Cole, a tenderfoot NYC banker
named Seymour Kern (John Saxon) and a Mexican cowhand
named Johnny Caddo (Rudolph Acosta). Seymour was bullied into
going by the bank president (Ray Teal) to watch the
money, but acts with courage despite his limits as a
cowboy; while Johnny rides with the posse because it's
the right thing to do.
Thankfully the action
sequences are well-executed, Audie is an iconic
presence and, supposedly, after NYC method actress Zohra
Lampert was told privately by Audie to just read the
lines from the script and not go through making up her
part, she was at least bearable.
REVIEWED ON 7/28/2013 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ