Frustrating B+ Western for Maureen O’Hara wastes a good story, decent production values and a good (tv-centric) cast with story construction that doesn’t add up & faceless, blandly efficient megging from prolific Lee Sholem. In a highly TechniColored Hollywood Wyoming*, established cattle barons are prepping for a range war against upstart settlers, novices grabbing unclaimed maverick cows off open territory. (It's a switch from the usual homestead farmers.) Playing both sides against the middle is William Bishop, a smooth operator who hopes the ensuing blood & chaos will leave him a path to the Governorship. For help, and camouflage, he’s brought in an old flame, flashy saloon proprietor O’Hara who he also uses as a front for an undercover cattle rustling scam. Too bad Maureen can’t see she’s got a natural ally in local Sheriff Alex Nicol; both too busy fighting off a case of mutual attraction. The little-remembered Nicol is very good here, with a laid-back style that balances O’Hara’s flame-throwing ways. Plus, he gets to play our favorite character, the underachiever who gets a second chance, unaware he’s been hired to fail, then comes up with the goods in the clutch. Plenty to work with in here, but the film chugs along on autopilot.
DOUBLE-BILL: O’Hara, co-starring with James Stewart & Brian Keith, wasted another good Western idea in THE RARE BREED/’66. It’s got an even better story (English widow brings a superior breed of cattle to America) and even worse direction.
ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: *With Hollywood beginning its switch to various real & knock-off EastmanColor Tri-Pac systems, Winton Hoch (John Ford’s preferred color cinematographer) seems to be trying to use up all the leftover dye in the TechniColor labs on this one film.