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Terror in a Texas Town

Terror in a Texas Town(1958)

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  • Terror in a Texas Town

    • Bruce Walther
    • 12/10/12

    Joseph H. Lewis has received much praise (deservedly so) for his B-movie classics 'Guncrazy' and 'The Big Combo'. His western 'Terror in a Texas Town' may be his greatest western for its undeniable style that Lewis often was able to convey despite the weak scripts he sometimes had to work with. After making two, generally, likeable, rich-in-color westerns with Randolph Scott (A Lawless Street, 1955; 7th Cavalry, 1956) Lewis chose a grittier black-and-white for 'Terror Texas Town' and the immediate sense is an authenticity the color movies are simply too 'pretty' to establish. In the lead this time is Sterling Hayden instead of Randolph Scott (who was making his Budd Boetticher westerns by 1958); and in the wealthy land baron, bad guy roll is Sebastian Cabot (a roll that Raymond Burr might have been cast if a more mainstream(?) movie). But, Hayden plays George Hansen a 'Whaler' who arrives from Sweden armed with his dream of living on his fathers farmland; and his trusty harpoon. He soon learns his father has been killed and the movie's predictability, pretty much, ends with the land baron - who runs the town and owns the sheriif - wanting all the land for himself because oil has been found. He of course has hired the obligatory gunman (played with eventual confusion - and despair) by Ned Young. The gunman has an intimidating reputation but the viewer soon learns he is surviving simply by that rep. And shooting unarmed men. He's aging; he knows it and he begins to doubt himself in the face of other victims and 'their' courage in the face of death. Even his long-suffering girlfriend is changing. Played by little known Carol Kelly, J.H. Lewis gives her a scene that pays homage (ripps off?) 'High Noon' when she decides to attend a town meeting in the local church. She tells them of the impending showdown and what it may mean to the towns survival. 'Terror' combines a satisfying approach: a simple violent western as minor art form.

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