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Western films, from silent to today

Last of the Badmen (1957)

George Montgomery is Dan Barton, a detective with the Chandler Agency. The agency’s mission: to break up an outlaw band that has an ingenious plan for getting away with thievery.

They break an outlaw out of jail, make him the front man — and the only identifiable individual — in a series of holdups. Then, when the price on his head gets high enough, they kill him for the reward. That way they make money on the holdups and the bounties, but never get caught.

After one Chandler detective infiltrates the group only to lose his life, it’s Barton’s turn to go undercover. He finds an ally inside the group in Ted Hamilton (James Best), a young man cooperating with the outlaw gang against his will, and he has one outside in Roberts (Keith Larsen), a fellow agent posing as faro dealer in the town of Gallatin.

Thing is, once he’s a part of the outlaw gang, Barton is convinced there’s someone organizing the holdups from the outside.

Review:

A fairly ingenious plot in a film that unfortunately lacks any sort of spark. Or enough character development to make us care if Montgomery, Best or Larsen survive their respective plights.

The purple prose narration of nearly every significant development doesn’t help. It’s not as though the storyline is that difficult to follow.

The film was remade just six years later as “Gunfight at Comanche Creek,” an Audie Murphy vehicle.

Directed by:
Paul Landres

Cast:
George Montgomery … Dan Barton / Bruce
Keith Larsen … Roberts
James Best … Ted Hamilton
Douglas Kennedy … Hawkins
Robert Foulk … Taylor
Tom Greenway … Dallas
Willis Bouchey … Marshal Parker
Michael Ansara … Kramer
Addison Richards … Dillon
Meg Randall … Lila
John Doucette … Johnson
John Damler … Elkins
Harlan Wade … Green

Runtime: 79 min.

Song:
“West of Gallatin”
sung by James Best during film

Memorable lines:

Hawkins: “We need a frontman — someone to set things up before we move in.”
Dan Barton: “What you mean is a sucker who takes the biggest chance.”
Hawkins: “Let’s not argue about it, friend. You’re it.”
Barton: “What if I don’t go along?”
Hawkins: “You go back to jail. In a box. And we collect the reward.”
Barton: “Big choice.”

Narrator: “Barton knew where he stood. The perilous line between life and death was becoming thinner.”

Dan Barton: “You know, a man could get a stake in an outfit like this. Then go down to Mexico and buy himself a lot of land. He wouldn’t have to run no more from nobody.”
Ted Hamilton: “Look, you did me a favor, I’m going to do you one. I’m telling you to get out. Get out quick. Or the only land you’ll ever own will be on top of you.”

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