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Slaughter Trail

Slaughter Trail(1951)

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teaser Slaughter Trail (1951)

Infamous in the annals of Hollywood history for having balked at the notion of adapting Ian Fleming's James Bond novels for the big screen and sending partner Albert R. Broccoli into business with Harry Saltzman, Lewis Allen directed only a handful of films during his long career (which included developing the Matt Helm spy films starring Dean Martin.) Accustomed to having Poverty Row studios distribute his independent productions, Allen was poised to offer his Cinecolor western Slaughter Trail (1951) to the J. Arthur Rank-owned Eagle Lion until RKO Radio Pictures made the better offer. Studio head Howard Hughes agreed to release the picture on one condition: star Howard Da Silva had to go. Da Silva's leftist politics had landed him on an industry blacklist, which made him persona non grata at the patriotic RKO. With Da Silva's scenes already in the can, director Allen was obliged to reshoot with Brian Donleavy subbing in the role of an Old West Calvary captain who must bring to justice the white killers of Indian braves before the Navajo nation goes on the warpath. Slaughter Trail's use of ballads to reflect plot developments predates High Noon (1952); folksinger Terry Gilkyson later enjoyed a long association with Walt Disney and earning an Oscar nomination for writing "The Bare Necessities" for the 1967 animated feature The Jungle Book.

By Richard Harland Smith

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