Another cracker of a fifties western is Columbia Picture's THE VIOLENT MEN (aka "Rough Company"). Produced by Louis J. Rachmil for the studio in 1955 this enjoyable oater regrettably seems somewhat forgotten in these days of sparse western productions. It is a pity really for it is quite an absorbing colourful western tale directed with a genuine flair by Rudolph Mate and boasting an all star cast in Glenn Ford, Edward G. Robinson, Barbara Stanwyck and Brian Keith. With splendid production values it even has a score by the legendary Max Steiner who was borrowed from Warner Brothers. This was the second score the formidable composer wrote for a Columbia picture after his great success the previous year with "The Caine Mutiny" (1954). From a novel by Donald Hamilton THE VIOLENT MEN was well written for the screen by Harry Kleiner and beautifully photographed in Cinemascope and colour by W.H. Green and Burnett Guffey.
A recuperating Civil War veteran John Parrish (Glenn Ford)- along with some other small ranchers - is running his holding in a valley dominated by the powerful Anchor Ranch owned by big land baron the crippled Lee Wilkinson (Edward G. Robinson) and his unfaithful wife Martha (Barbara Stanwyck). But Wilkinson wants all the ranches in the valley to be Anchor owned and his younger gunslinging brother Cole (Brian Keith) is riding roughshod over them and burning them out when they refuse to be bought. Wilkinson offers to buy out the Parrish place and when he refuses and one of his hands is killed by some Anchor riders he decides to fight Wilkinson. Before long a full scale range war begins culminating in the Anchor stock being stampeded, the Anchor ranch set alight and finally Parrish taking on Cole in an exciting fast draw shootout.
THE VIOLENT MEN is an action packed and handsome looking western. Performances are fine from all concerned. Ford is his usual likable unforced self, presenting his affable cowboy image with that familiar attractive casualness. He was only two years away from his greatest western role in "3.Ten To Yuma" (1957). Good too is Barbara Stanwyck as Wilkinson's scheming cheating wife. A part the actress played many times before in her busy career. But miscast is Edward G. Robinson! The great pint sized actor simply doesn't suit the part of the big rancher in a western. Watching him here you can't help but wonder if he was only brought on board the production to replace someone like Lee J. Cobb or Albert Dekker or perhaps Raymond Massey.
Holding the whole thing together is the splendid music of Max Steiner. As the credits unfold a jagged staccato statement from the orchestra is heard to emphasize the film's title before segueing into an attractive broad loping western melody. Later in a resplendent sequence this lovely theme is heard in full bloom when we see Ford riding (with characteristic crooked elbows) across some spectacular locations at Lone Pine and The Alabama Hills with what looks like Mount Whitney in the background. A captivating example of the beautiful combination of film and music. Steiner's score was conducted by Columbia Picture's conductor in residence Morris Stoloff. A rare occasion when the composer's music was conducted by someone else.
THE VIOLENT MEN is an enjoyable and memorable motion picture and a fine addition to the list of splendid westerns that were thankfully brought to us in the fifties.
The Violent Men
The Violent Men
A Union ex-officer plans to sell up to Anchor Ranch and move east with his fiancee, but the low price offered by Anchor's crippled owner and the outfit's bully-boy tactics make him think again. When one of his hands is murdered he decides to stay and fight, utilising his war experience. Not all is well at Anchor with the owner's wife carrying on with his brother who anyway has a Mexican moll in town.
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February 14, 2019 at 11:34 AM