Best of the Badmen [DVD]
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First UK DVD release of this 1951 western from RKO Pictures. In the aftermath of the American Civil War, a gang of vanquished Confederate veterans known as the Quantrill Raiders are roaming the West branded as outlaws by the new Yankee government. The gang includes the Younger and James brothers, and has refused to lay down their arms after the Civil War peace agreement. But when Major Jefferson Clanton (Robert Ryan) surrounds the outlaws with his overwhelming cavalry forces, Bob Younger (Jack Buetel) reluctantly accepts Clanton s offer to surrender and be escorted to camp to swear allegiance to the new government in return for a pardon for their crimes. However, Robert Preston (Matthew Fowler), a greedy private detective carpetbagger decides that his agency wants to collect the bounty on the outlaws heads and a deadly gunfight ensues when one of Preston s men is shot dead by Clanton and the Raiders break free to ride as the Badmen again...
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Top Customer Reviews
"This story tells a forgotten chapter in the violent history of the West. Months after the tragic war between The States had ended there was still no peace on the Western Frontier."
William Russell's Western is an energetic entry into the pantheon of Oaters, it's one that involves the often filmed topic of the Jayhawkers or Bushwhackers who roamed the West causing hurt and pain in the aftermath of the Civil War. Best of the Badmen ropes in the brothers James and Younger, a few other scalawag types (Curly Ringo/Doc Butcher) and gives them a leader in the tall form of Robert Ryan's Jeff Clanton. How and why Clanton, and ex Union Major, joined the Confederate guerrilla unit? Is a nifty bit of story telling that adds a vengeful bite to what otherwise could have been standard B Western formula.
Once motives and character traits are established, film goes about its business with guts and determination. A fight, a pursuit or a sneaky act is never far from the plot, there's even a romantic thread that's not over stretched, allowing the splendidly attired Miss Trevor as the estranged Lilly Fowler to light up the screen. The narrative has some smarts about it, Clanton and his gang are out to ruin "The Fowler Agency" (an obvious nod to the Pinkerton Agency) which is run by dastardly Matthew Fowler (Preston), but although Clanton wants revenge on Fowler, he's still a good guy at heart and will not let his gang become murderous terrorists. Honour among thieves?Read more ›
Robert Ryan is of course the great actor I refer to. Superb in fine films like "The Naked Spur" where he gave James Stewart nightmares, and wonderfully world weary in Sam Peckinpah's great western "The Wild Bunch", he was an actor who could always command the screen, and manage to carry a film single handed with his screen persona. His strong support came from a fading Clair Trevor, the ever grizzled Walter Brennan who was faultless in Howard Hawks "Red River", Bruce Cabot a star from the thirties, Jack Beutel making his first film since starring as Billy the Kid in Howard Hughes blockbuster "The Outlaw", that fine 'A' lister Robert Preston as the baddie, Barton MacLane who played a big role in "Union Pacific" and that superb villain Robert J Wilke appearing as Bob Wilke, who memorably threw James Stewart off a train in "Night Passage". Ryan plays a Union officer who is forced into outlawry by the activities of carpetbagger Robert Preston and his gang of cronies.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A wonderful western and Robert Ryan is good, but Walter Brennan as ever makes the moviePublished on 9 Sept. 2013 by sid