Legendary Gary Cooper Western
Stuart Heisler animatedly directs this passé Western that is too talky (though the dialogue is robust); it’s graced with the presence of the iconic Western star Gary Cooper, who makes for a good action hero when it’s called for and he’s not sleepwalking his way through the part of the laconic outsider.
The screenplay by John Twist is too twisty for such a routine and all-too-familiar story; in conclusion, it’s talky and seems better saddled up for a “B” star such as Buck Jones rather than to waste the time of a big name star with such trivial pursuits.
The plot has Cooper playing the ex-Confederate Colonel Blayde Hollister, who rides into the pioneer town of Dallas posing as a frontier marshal in search of the war opportunists who killed his Georgia family, torched their plantation and stole his land.
Hollister assumes the identity of the dandy U.S. Marshall Martin Weatherby from Boston.
In the process, he’ll give law and order to the wild brawling town by taming it with frontier justice. A refreshingly bosomy Ruth Roman becomes his romantic interest, recognizing he’s not her fiancé, Weatherby, but remaining mum as she obviously prefers his broad shoulders to the real marshal’s.
The real marshal soon arrives in Dallas, but goes along with the pretense because he feels he’s a tinhorn who is not up to the job.
While the baddies, the killers Coop is after, are played by Steve Cochran and Raymond Massey, the good-for-nothing cattle baron and banker respectively, the Marlow brothers.
The lush Technicolor, the fancy production values and the good camera work by Ernest Haller, make this under the wraps B-Western posing as an A-Western look far better than it actually should.