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Western films, from silent to today

Desperado: Avalanche at Devil’s Ridge (1988)

Alex McArthur is Duell McCall, a man wanted for murder, a man out to clear his name.

He outwits a posses, but can’t outwit its most determined member, Jim Buckner, who takes McCall captive and dreams of the land the $2,000 reward on his head is going to buy and how much that will impress that woman he hopes to marry.

But the deputy and prisoner are ambushed crossing the desert. When the bullets stop flying, only McCall is alive. He figures swapping identities with the deputy might be the perfect solution for his problems.

The ruse works for a while. McCall even collects the bounty on his own head. But as he’s leaving town, the sheriff discovers his secret. McCall winds up behind bars, facing a hangman’s noose.

But there’s a chance to save his neck.

Rachel Slaton (Alice Adair), daughter of a rich miner (Rod Steiger as Silas Slaten) has been kidnapped by a man named Joshua. Slaten figures McCall is his best chance to get her back.

But just to make sure he’s not double crossed, Silas holds McCall’s girlfriend, Nora, captive until his daughter is safely returned.

Soon, McCall learns the Silas Slaten has a dark secret of his own.


Perhaps the best of the five-part made-for-TV Desperado film series thanks to its unusual plot and a couple of twists, including one at the end, that you probably won’t see coming.

And it starts with a couple of smart scenes — McCall’s capture and his desperate fight for life when he and the deputy are ambushed in the desert.

Rod Steiger plays Silas Slaten, the most possessive and obsessive of fathers; Alice Adair is Rachel Slaten, the woman he possesses.

This marked the third film in the series and the return of actress Lise Cutter, McCall’s lover from the first film. She’d return again in 1989’s “Outlaw Wars.”

Adair has just seven screen credits. The same year this telefilm was released, she married Josh Brolin. They had two children together before divorcing in 1992.

Directed by:
Richard Compton

Alex McArthur … Duell McCall
Alice Adair … Rachel Slaten
Rod Steiger … Silas Slaten
Hoyt Axton … Sheriff Ben Tree
Dwier Brown … Jim Buckner
Lise Cutter … Nora
Lee Paul … Joshua Barrens

Runtime: 96 in.

Memorable lines:

Jim Buckner, after capturing Duell: “Money just slips through my fingers.”
Duell McCall: “Never could accumulate much in the way of cash myself.”
Buckner: “What about all them banks?”
Duell: “Sorry to disappoint you, Jim, but I never took any banks.”
Buckner: “Well, damn, you keep talking like that, they’re not going to convict you. Might not pay the reward.”

Duell McCall: “Jim, you ever kill anybody?”
Jim Buckner: “I’ve been with posses that shot at men. Some of ’em fell. I figure my bullets was in there somewhere.”
Duell: “But you neve had a kill you could call your own.”

Silas Slaten of his daughter: “She’s the only person in these parts who’s not afraid of me. She’s what you might call my achilles heel.”
Rachel Slaton to McCall: “Of course, you know who Achilles is?”
Duell McCall: “Sounds like some sort of Indian to me.”

Duel McCall to Nora Malloy: “I don’t want my ghost doggin’ you the rest of your life.”

Rachel Slaten: “I’ll get along. Slaves learn how real early in life.”

Rachel Slaton: “I’ll haunt you Duell McCall. I’ll haunt you til the day you die.”

Silas Slaton to Rachel: “I raised you to love me!”

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