Pegasus Entertainment seem to have taken on board the criticisms about the picture quality of the films they have brought to DVD, and seem to be upping their game by being more selective. Just like their other recent release "Incident at Phantom Hill", the picture quality is top notch. The original film print was clearly still in mint condition and required little if anything in the way of restoration. The film is certainly one worth rescuing from dusty film archive oblivion. It is the sort of B western that is very unlikely to ever get a viewing on TV outside of the USA, which is a great pity because it has a lot going for it.
The plot has Jim Bowie and his famous knife trying to uphold a treaty to prevent a silver rush into Comanche territory. This peaceful treaty is threatened by the unscrupulous actions of criminals willing to commit murder for a fortune in silver. Matters are complicated further when Bowie starts to fall for a beautiful but feisty saloon owner played by the red headed Maureen O'Hara, of whom there are suspicions of involvement in the plot against the treaty. Filmed in vibrant technicolor, this is a fine example of a good quality B western from a halcyon period for those films. It is directed by B movie veteran George Sherman, who had a lot of experience in westerns. His last film was to be John Wayne's "Big Jake". The films leading actor was Macdonald Carey, who was known as the king of the 'B's. Sherman directs with a sure hand and Carey provides a suitably virile presence. O'Hara does her feisty Irish redhead turn, which seemed to be a dress rehearsal for the later "McLintock". The cinematography is very impressive for a B movie. The movie contains plenty of action, with some impressive stunt work.
The film also has a good support cast. Will Geer lends his considerable screen presence in the main support role. Better known as Grandpa Walton, but whom I better remember as a grizzled mountain man in "Jeremiah Johnson", he steals the show with homespun phrases such as "I'll be hog swallered". That busy actor Charles Drake gets to play O'Hara's brother and a young James Best has one of his very earliest roles. Iron Eyes Cody, who was actually of Sicilian ancestry gets another of his countless 'blink or you'll miss him' indian roles. His book "Iron Eyes, my life as a hollywood indian" is well worth a read! Like Grey Owl he was found to have duped many by posing as a bona fide indian for donkeys years. If I have to be critical of anything it is the use of white actors in the role of native Americans, but then this was the accepted norm at the time. The film is highly fictionalised of course. Bowie was perhaps not the whiter than white character that his demise at the Alamo lead him to be painted as, but at least the film makes an attempt to arm the men with guns that looked as if they might date from the 1830's. Bowie himself died at the Alamo in 1836. To be honest who cares if havoc is played with historical facts so long as we get an entertaining film, and in this case we certainly do. It is a pleasant throwback to good old fashioned westerns, and rollicking good fun. As always with Pegasus this is a bare bones DVD with no extras. Just keep them coming Pegasus, there are plenty more where this one came from!