Although 'Night of the Grizzly' was released by Paramount, it's easy to mistake it as a Disney film! Long on family values and gentle humor, this adventure yarn is the kind of 'live-action' feature that the studio specialized in throughout the fifties. If you don't think a film that kids can enjoy will be your 'cup of tea', you might be in for a surprise! This is a terrific movie!
Ex-Marshal Jim Cole (played with rugged charm by 'Cheyenne' Clint Walker) moves his family onto a small ranch, hoping to get away from the dangers of his previous line of work. His loving wife, Angela (popular '60s star Martha Hyer) is overjoyed by their new life, and the kids soon develop a bond with the beautiful countryside, and the small town nearby.
Not EVERYONE is happy about the arrangement, however; town bigshot Jed Curry (Keenan Wynn) wants Cole's land, and his sons are soon attempting to provoke Cole, in an unsuccessful attempt to force him to leave. When a montrous killer grizzly appears, and starts killing off Cole's livestock, Curry sees his opportunity; as the primary shareholder at the bank, he makes it nearly impossible for the rancher to get loans to replace stock.
The grizzly, nicknamed 'Satan', terrorizes the countryside, killing men, horses, and farm animals, and Cole methodically begins hunting it, in hopes of getting the $750 bounty that would 'save' his ranch!
The arrival of bounty hunter Cass Dowdy (played with cold-blooded menace by Leo Gordon, a veteran screen villain) further muddies the waters; Cole had once arrested him, and Dowdy spent two years in the 'pen', vowing revenge! Adored by the eldest Cole child, Charlie (Kevin Brodie), Dowdy announces he will kill the grizzly and accept the bounty, simply to ruin Cole! The pieces are now in place for a thrilling finale, as Cole, Charlie, and Dowdy confront the enraged beast, in a scene eerily similar to the climax of 'Jaws'!
The film offers a supporting cast of Hollywood 'pros', including Jack Elam ('Cannonball Run'), as bizzare but sweet Hank, who is 'adopted' by Cole's young daughter, Gypsy (the wonderful Victoria Paige Meyerink, in her second film); Nancy Kulp (TV's 'The Beverly Hillbillies') as the spinster owner of the local mercantile store; Ron Ely (TV's first 'Tarzan') and Sammy Jackson (TV's 'No Time for Sergeants') as Dowdy's sons; and Regis Toomey ('Burke's Law'), as the sympathetic banker.
This is a film to cherish, and enjoy, again and again! Gather the family...They'll thank you for it!