EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|THUNDER OVER THE PLAINS (director: André De Toth; screenwriter: Russell Hughes; cinematographer: Bert Glennon; editor: James Moore; music: David Buttolph; cast: Randolph Scott (Captain David Porter), Phyllis Kirk (Norah Porter), Lex Barker (Captain Bill Hodges), Charles McGraw (Ben Westman), Henry Hull (Lt. Col. Chandler), Elisha Cook Jr. (Joseph Standish), Hugh Sanders (H.L. Balfour), James Brown (Conrad), Fess Parker (Kirby), Richard Benjamin (Sgt. Shaw), Jack Woody (Henley), Lane Chandler (Faraday); Runtime: 82; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Weisbart; Warner Bros.; 1953)|
|"Provides characters with more
depth than usually found in this genre."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
André De Toth ("Play Dirty"/"The Mongols"/"The Bounty Hunter") directs this exciting B western that has an historical flavor, is well-acted and superbly directed. It's written by Russell Hughes, who provides characters with more depth than usually found in this genre but keeps the plot uncomplicated.
It's set in 1869 in
post-Civil War Texas, which is an impoverished
state that has still not yet been readmitted to the Union. The Texans
are plagued by crooked government officials and carpetbaggers, who are
cheating them and keeping them poor. Balfour (Hugh
Sanders) is the slimy cotton dealer carpetbagger and
Joseph Standish (Elisha Cook Jr.) is the corrupt tax commissioner. The two
slimeballs have made a bargain for Standish to keep raising taxes so
that Balfour can confiscate the farmer's cotton in an auction. Ben Westman (Charles
McGraw) is the local Texan
renegade whose gang robs Balfour and acts as a popular Robin Hood
figure. Because of all the robberies the territory is under martial
law. The nervous fort commander, Lt. Col. Chandler (Henry Hull), fearing only that he will not get his
pension when he soon retires if he messes this carpetbagger situation
up, orders Captain David Porter (Randolph Scott), a native Texan sympathetic to the locals,
to bring in Westman. When the
reluctant Porter can't, Washington sends reinforcements. The
reinforcement commander is the smug green West Point grad Captain
Hodges (Lex Barker). The slimy Hodges gets on Porter's nerves
by disobeying his orders and therefore botching the capture of Westman
and for forcing himself on Porter's socialite wife Norah (Phyllis
Henley (Jack Woody), the
informer leading the army to where Westman and his gang are hiding out,
is knifed in the back by Balfour, who refuses to pay the reward money
he promised for information on the rebel leader Westman because he
wasn't captured. Balfour frames Westman for the murder, and it's up to
the forthright Porter to bring justice to this region by proving
Westman is innocent.
REVIEWED ON 4/12/2011 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ