A Lawless Street Film Details
Overview: Marshal Calem Ware (Randolph Scott) must face unpleasant facts about his past when he attempts to run a criminal gang out of town.
Tagline: They were all running out at the same time … his luck … his bullets … his woman !
Review: Anybody who knows anything about Hollywood westerns from the 1950s knows that John Wayne loathed Fred Zinnemann’s “High Noon” because Gary Cooper’s sheriff sought help from the cowardly townspeople and nobody other than his Quaker wife can to his aid. “Red River” director Howard Hawks and Wayne waited seven years later and made “Rio Bravo” as a corrective to “High Noon.” Clearly, neither Wayne nor Hawks saw “Gun Crazy” director Joseph H. Lewis’ town taming oater “A Lawless Street” (1955) with rugged, square-jawed Randolph Scott who plays a town marshal under similar circumstances. The big difference here is Scott doesn’t go searching for help from the townspeople. As it turns out, the townspeople realize by fade-out that they had let their town marshal shouldered too much of the burden while they refused to behave responsibly and share the burden of maintaining safety with the town. Early, in the action, one of the villains observes that half of the people in Medicine Bend are “too yellow to fight back” and the other half are in the pocket of the villainous businessmen. Indeed, the town marshal surrenders both his star and his six-gun after he has cleaned up the town and departs in a buggy with his wife (Angela Lansbury of “Murder, She Wrote”) after a lengthy separation between them because she could not tolerate the anxiety as a lawman’s spouse. The town of Medicine Bend is about to take on renewed life as a mining boom town because the captains of industry are going to do the smelting in town instead of shipping the ore hundreds of miles out of town. The economic forces behind this move are unscrupulous businessman Hamer Thorne (Warner Anderson of “The Caine Mutiny”) and saloon entrepreneur Cody Clark (John Emery of “Spellbound”), and they mean to get things underway by hiring a professional gunslinger, Harley Baskam (Michael Pate of “Hondo”), to liquidate the star packer, Caleb Ware (Randolph Scott of “The Tall T”), and Baskam beats Caleb on the draw in Cody’s saloon. The catch is that Baskam’s bullet puts a part in Caleb’s skull and Dr. Amos Wynn (Wallace Ford of “Freaks”) conceals this vital information from everybody. While the villains are living high, wide, and handsome, Wynn has managed to stash Caleb in his own jail to recuperate. Thorne and Clark are either buying out everybody else in Medicine Bend who supported Caleb or killing them. One irate saloon owner, Abe Deland (Frank Ferguson of “Johnny Guitar”), refuses to sell out. He grabs a gun behind his bar, but the gimlet-eyed Baskam drills him. Meantime, Thorne and Clark ride out to the sprawling ranch of Asaph Dean (James Bell of “Blood on the Sun”) who initially empowered Caleb to pin on the star three years earlier. A professional town tamer, Caleb has survived many attempts on his life, and two from killers hired by the sleazy Cody. In the first instance, our stalwart hero is relaxing in a barber’s chair, getting a shave, when a third-rate gunman, Dingo Brion (Frank Hagney of “Fighting Caravans”), enters, glimpses the marshal’s gun and gun belt hanging up nearby out of reach, and brandishes his own six-shooter to make short order of him. Caleb surprises his adversary and plugs him twice with a derringer concealed beneath the sheet covering him. Scenes with heroes surviving shoot-outs in barber shops in westerns are numerous, such as in Clint Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter” and Tonino Valerii’s “My Name Is Nobody.” The second instance involves a mustached Hispanic with a knife, Juan Tobrez (Don Carlos of “Wyoming Renegades”), who throws and misses Caleb. Under the circumstances, Hispanics could clamor about racial stereotyping because a Mexican wielded a knife. Appropriately, Cody comes to Caleb’s aid and guns down the Mexican, largely because he hired the knife-slinger! Ultimately, Caleb meets his match in Baskam, and they duel in the traditional western sense in Cody’s saloon. Caleb receives a serious head wound, but he doesn’t die. When Baskam steps forward to deliver a coup de grace, Dr. Wynn pulls a gun on the gunslinger, and explains that Caleb is dead. Meantime, a sub-plot that smolders on a back burner involves performing artist and vocalist, Tally Dickenson (Angela Lansbury), who turns out to be Caleb’s estranged wife. When he was the lawman in Apache Wells, he was constantly in jeopardy, and she couldn’t handle it so she abandoned him. Thorne has imported her into Medicine Bend, but he doesn’t know that she is estranged from Caleb. Some days pass, and Caleb emerges from his enforced confinement and tangles with Baskam again, but he doesn’t give him a fair chance. In this respect, Caleb’s action predate John Wayne’s action against sharp-shooting gunslinger Christopher George in “El Dorado.” Altogether, “A Lawless Street” qualifies as an intelligent, above-average horse opera with Randolph Scott that doesn’t wear out its welcome at 78-minutes.
Country: United States
Language: English, French
Duration: 78 min
Also known as: La ciudad sin ley,Una calle sin ley,La poudre parle,A Lawless Street,La calle sin ley,Pistolsheriffen,I senza Dio,Улица беззакония,Als de wapens spreken,Ville sans loi,Marshal of Medicine Bend,Ulica Bez Zakona (1955),Vallei der wetteloosheid,Paranomos dromos,Ase on puhunut,Улица без закон,Han kom fra Apache Wells,The Street Without Law,My Gun Commands,Ein Mann wie der Teufel,Shahr-e bighanoon,Obrigado a Matar,捨身の一撃,Rua Sem Lei,O strada fara de lege