This film was on Television here in England today Saturday 29 November 2014. I must say that I hadn’t heard of this one at all which surprises me because this was in an era when I was very aware of the films released. Anyway seeing it today, I thought how good it was.
The storyline goes as follows :-
Van Heflin plays a tough cattle rancher who wants the best for his two sons. – one (Tab Hunter) is wild, spoiled and bitter about following in his father’s shadow, the other (James Darren) is soft, gentle, not prone to gunplay like his older brother. Heflin is very effective at playing the father who seems blind to the realities that both boys are dealing with.
The conflict begins when Hunter and a half-breed Sioux (Bert Convy) that his father has hired, race after a prized white stallion that they’ve been trying to catch for some time now. Hunter runs his horse into the Indian, forcing him off a cliff, plunging to his death below. Two other Indians witness this and will later testify against Hunter at his trial. At the trial, a drifting horse trader (Ray Teal) testifies in favour of Hunter for a price of 10 mustangs and the white stallion. Heflin catches on to Teal’s game and agrees to it in order to protect his son, but warns Teal to get out of town and don’t come back or else.
In the meantime, Darren has fallen in love with the dead Indian’s sister (Kathryn Grant). As Hunter sees Teal riding the herd including the white stallion inot the local town, he goes down and confronts Teal and demands the white stallion back. When he refuses, he draws on Teal and shoots him off his horse, severely wounding him. Hunter is placed in jail but once again his father Van Heflin covers up for him by offering Teal a bribe he can’t refuse.
In the end though this does not matter at all because Hunter breaks out of jail, killing the unarmed deputy (Mickey Shaughnessy) in the process, and forcing the town to form a posse to go after him. Van Heflin knows that he is not able to save his boy at this point, but he knows where he will go to and he gets there before the posse does. There is a showdown between father and son and a final gun battle
Directed by Phil Karlson, with a good story, and a powerful performance by Van Heflin, this is one to see.
The previous film Van Heflin had made was another great Western – 3:10 to Yuma with Glenn Ford – another of my favourites.
I featured another Van Heflin film on the Blog some months ago – and it was one I did remember well – Tanganyika 1953 with Ruth Roman.
I liked that one.