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Western films, from silent to today

The Eagle and the Hawk (1950)

The Eagle and the Hawk (1950) poster It’s 1863, the war between the states is raging and Texas Ranger Tom Croyden (John Payne) is eager to get off and fight for the South when he’s sent on a bizarre mission by the governor of Texas.

He’s asked to free Whitney Randolph (Dennis O’Keefe), a northerner and a prisoner of the Rebs. Once the mission is accomplished, Croyden learns the reason — Randolph is a secret angent for the federal government, trying to help Juarez keep the French from gaining control of Mexico.

And there’s another part to Croyden’s mission — escorting Randolph to Mexico to make sure he doesn’t fall into Southern hands again.

And so they set off, with Croyden still yearning to get free of Randolph and join Hood’s army — until he learns that the French and Mexicans also have their eyes on his beloved Texas.

Seems there are two men behind all the mischief — Gen. Liguras, known as The Hawk, and his band of Mexicans; and a white man named Danzeeger, who is raising his own private army.

Danzeeger also has a very pretty young lady named Madeline (Rhonda Fleming) living on his ranch, and it doesn’t take long for Croyden to find another reason to care about what happens south of the border.


Better than average film, with Fleming looking lovely as always, Payne turning in a solid performance and enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.

Liguras, the Hawk, thinks he working for Juarez and knows nothing of Danzegger’s connections to the French government. Exposing that and creating a rift between the two enemies of the U.S. becomes the prime strategy for Croyden and Randolph.

Speaking of twists and turns, Payne is nearly drawn and quartered in the film’s most memorable scene. He’s tied between two wild mustangs who are sent racing off by Danzegger’s men. In fact, the alternative title for the film is “Spread Eagle.”

The film is loosely based on the battle for control of Mexico between the French and Juarez in the early 1860s.

Rhonda Fleming as Madeline Danzegger and John Payne as Tom Croyden in The Eagle and the Hawk (1950)Directed by:
Lewis Foster

John Payne … Capt. Todd Croyden
Rhonda Fleming … Madeline Danzegger
Dennis O’Keefe … Whitney Randolph
aka The Eagle
Thomas Gomez … Gen. Liguras
aka The Hawk
Fred Clark … Basil Danzeeger
Frank Faylen … “Red” Hyatt
Eduardo Noriega … Roberto, cobbler
Grandon Rhodes … Texas Gov. Lubbock
Walter Reed … Jones

aka: Spread Eagle

Runtime: 104 min.

Memorable lines:

Capt. Todd Croyden, upon reaching a river: “Look at all that nice, wet water.”
Whitney Randolph: “And look what’s sitting in it: a damsel in distress.” (He shakes some dice). “Shall we see who gets to rescue her, Mr. Croyden.”
Croyden: “You can have her, Mr. Randolph. I’ll take the water.”

Madeline Danzegger to Todd Croyden: “I saw your eyes when you lifted me on your horse. They seemed to like what they saw.”

Madeline Danzegger: “Look, I took great risk in coming here, Mr. Todd. You must believe me.”
Todd Croyden: “Why should I? I don’t know anything about you. Except you can tie a man’s stomach in knots and make his tongue feel as thick as a saddle blanket.”

Gen. Liguras to Croyden and Randolph: “I go to Danzegger. If what you tell me is true, I kill him. If what you tell me is not true, I kill you.”

Danzeeger to Madeline: “Losing one’s head in this business is dangerous enough. Losing one’s heart is worse.”

Croyden: “I’ll try to get your horse.”
Randolph, mortally injured in a fall and forming angel wings with his fingers: “I don’t need a horse. I understand they use an entirely different form of transportation where I’m going … if my luck holds out.”

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