"Vengeance Valley"(51) was Burt Lancasters first western, and he aquits himself well. The film was directed by Richard Thorpe and was based on a novel by Luke Short. The story concerns Lancaster as a ranch foreman/adopted son of a big rancher, who is constantly covering for the misdeeds of his step brother played by Robert Walker. Walker gets a young girl pregnant and the brothers come gunning for the man responsible. Lancaster yet again has to put himself into the firing line for Walkers sake. But things head to a point where it becomes impossible for him to cover up any more, and there is an inevitable showdown between the two.
The film is a pretty average Western but does have some good points. That fine actor John Ireland turns up as one of the bad brothers of the pregnant girl together with Hugh O'Brian. The ranch life is authentically portrayed at times with good scenes of cowpokes cutting out Hereford cattle. The bronc busting scene showed some excellent riding but was marred by the very phoney close ups of Walker. As for Walker himself, he does not cut an imposing figure and it is no wonder Lancaster has to do all the fighting for him.
Be warned the film could do with some restoration work. Unfortunately it is unlikely to warrant this treatment. It certainly shows the potential that Lancaster had in the Western genre, which he was later to fulfil with fine films like "The Professionals"(66) and "Ulzanas Raid"(72). I can only recommend this film to the very keenest of Western collectors. It is what only can be described as an average oater.