Monday, December 6, 2010


A highly under rated film and a departure for Director Jacques Tourneur. A western, it stars Joel McCrea as a minister in a small town. This is not a typical western. There is no gunfight. It's a simple, eloquent film that deals with the hazards from tainted well water to racial divisiveness and a couple things in between.

I had never heard of this movie until I came upon it a couple years back and it stayed in my head. The antagonist, if there is one is played by James Mitchell, the town doctor who followed in his father's footsteps. The conflict is between Joel McCrea's faith and Mitchell's disdain for all things religion.

The cast also includes Lewis Stone, Alan Hale Sr., Dean Stockwell and Ed Begley Sr. It is Juano Hernandez, however that is at the center of simmering tensions. A lifelong resident of the town and a freedman, he is being intimidated into selling his property at a fraction of its value or be run out by locals in white hoods and sheets. The end of the movie in resolving the matter is refreshing and as moving as any ever filmed.

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