Running Target


1956

Brief Synopsis

Arthur Franz, Doris Dowling, Richard Reeves, Myron Healy, James Parnell, James Anderson. In the mountains of Colorado, a sheriff pursues four escaped convicts with the aid of a volunteer posse, which includes a gas station owner (Doris Dowling) who is in love with one of the criminals who robbed her store. Music by Ernest Gold.

Film Details

Also Known As
Summer Game
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Western
Release Date
Nov 1956
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Canyon Pictures
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Salida, Colorado, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "My Brother Down There" by Steve Frazee in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (Apr 1953).

Synopsis

In the Colorado Rocky Mountain range, four prison escapees are sought by a posse led by Sheriff Scott. Members of the posse include Deputy Warden Holesworth, deputies Barker and Pryor, bartender and hunting expert Jaynes and the flinty female owner of a local filling station, Smitty. When one of the escaped men, Joseph R. Weyerhauser, darts out from the cover of the pine trees, Jaynes shoots and kills him using his high-powered hunting rifle. Scott is distressed by the killing and Jaynes's arrogant satisfaction in his own marksmanship. Scott reflects bitterly on Jaynes's callousness and Holesworth agrees, but reminds Scott that the prisoner was a convicted murderer. The warden then asks Scott why he allowed Jaynes and Smitty in the posse. Scott explains that despite his loathing of Jaynes, he respects his hunting abilities. Scott states that Smitty has a right to be included because she was attacked and her station robbed by the felons, then adds that Smitty is an expert outdoorswoman who knows the range better than anyone else. Holesworth sets off to check with the other two posses and leaves a pack mule carrying the radio with Scott and instructions to report to the police scout planes twice a day. After Holesworth's departure, the posse rides up into the hills on horseback and, after several hours, spots two figures approaching an abandoned mine in the distance. Exasperated at being too far away to take a shot, Jaynes urges Scott to hurry ahead. Upon arriving at the mine, Scott orders Jaynes to accompany him to investigate, but when the men hear noises within the dilapidated building, Jaynes refuses to continue. Scott enters the mining office to find a few rats and fresh cigarette butts left behind by the departed prisoners. When Scott declares that they will set up camp, Jaynes complains that the sheriff is allowing the prisoners to get away, but Scott points out that exhaustion, hunger and the cold will likely limit the fugitives' progress. Over the camp fire later, Jaynes wonders if any of the prisoners might be lurking nearby, but Scott is certain they have all fled over the pass. He observes that their tracks indicate one is ahead of the others and, as Smitty listens intently, declares his suspicion that it is probably Marty Kaygo, the shrewdest among them. After Scott joins Smitty to check on the horses, Jaynes tries to convince Barker and Pryor to join him in continuing the hunt, but the deputies mock Jaynes's bravado and refuse. Upon Smitty's return, Jaynes asks her about the contents of a bandana bag she is carrying and she states it carries extra ammunition. Scott confides in Barker his fear that he will be forced to kill the prisoners and wonders if there is any real moral difference between him and Jaynes, whom he loathes. The next morning, Smitty informs Scott that there is a cove on the other side of the ridge and hoping to cut off the prisoners' escape route, the group heads up a steep grade. Near the peak, however, the pack mule slips on loose stones and falls off the mountain to its death, taking the radio with it. Scott frets about now being cut off from the search planes, but the group moves on. The posse discovers prints indicating one of the men is likely injured and, recalling a small ranger cabin nearby, Scott speculates the fugitives might be hiding out there. At the cabin, the group finds injured convict Sam Castagna, who reveals that Kaygo and the other convict, Ora Strothers, have long since fled. Scott tends to Castagna, then, to Jaynes's frustration, decides the group should rest and eat before continuing. The next day, the group comes upon an abandoned ranch house where Scott and Pryor find Strothers dozing. Declaring he is tired, hungry and willing to return to prison, Strothers assures Scott he has no weapon, but suspicious, Scott examines him and finds a pistol. Scott then surprises Smitty by telling her that despite her attitude of hard indifference, he believes she cares what happens to Kaygo. Scott then decides that Pryor and Barker will take the prisoners back down the mountain where they can arrange for a plane to drop off food and ammunition in a meadow over the ridge. After Pryor and Barker depart with the prisoners, Jaynes refuses to go along with Scott's plan to follow Kaygo's tracks, believing he can cut him off by going directly over the ridge. Scott agrees to allow Jaynes to go his own way and to rendezvous with them at the meadow. Before continuing, Scott kills a turkey to eat and recalls Holesworth describing all the prisoners as "city boys," yet agrees with Smitty's observation that Kaygo's abilities to survive in the wild indicate otherwise. That evening, as the pair camps out, Scott speculates that Kaygo must be enjoying his freedom and will likely resist capture. Drawn by Smitty's unexpected softer mood, Scott abruptly kisses her, but then angrily demands to know the real reason for her accompanying the posse. Scott opens Smitty's bandana bag and, discovering a frilly white dress, asks if it was meant to serve as "bait" for him or Kaygo. Later during the night, Scott is awakened by a noise and sees Kaygo standing nearby, eating the remaining turkey, but does nothing to capture him. Unknown to Scott, Smitty has seen Kaygo as well. The next morning, Scott and Smitty resume tracking Kaygo and run into Jaynes. As Scott and Jaynes cross the small stream, Smitty comes upon Kaygo's tracks and, after obliterating them, she follows their direction away from the others through the brush. When Jaynes asks why Smitty has left them, Scott dismisses his concern, stating she will return shortly. At mid-morning, a police plane drops a supply box for them across the pond in the meadow, but as the men hurry toward it, they spot a figure rushing out from the brush to retrieve it. Exhausted by his haste, Jaynes misses two shots before the men realize the figure is Smitty, who makes off with the supplies. At the supply box Scott finds a note from Pryor indicating a larger posse will join them after noon the next day. Although disgusted by Jaynes's continual callous obsession with hunting down Kaygo, Scott declares they must camp together for the night. The next morning the men disagree on how to continue, with Jaynes insisting that Kaygo has headed to the freeway, while Scott believes that he has continued over the ridge. The men split up and when Scott reaches the crest, he looks down the hill to see Smitty in the white dress frolicking with Kaygo. Aiming his rifle, Scott hesitates, then decides to offer Kaygo a chance to surrender. He calls down to the couple, but as Kaygo starts to run away he is brought down by Jaynes, who had followed Scott. The men join the stricken Smitty who breaks down, but Jaynes, believing she is frightened, assures her she is safe now that Kaygo is dead. Outraged by Jaynes's obtuseness, Scott snatches Jaynes's rifle and breaks it over a large rock, then leads Smitty away as the perplexed Jaynes looks after them.

Film Details

Also Known As
Summer Game
Genre
Drama
Action
Crime
Western
Release Date
Nov 1956
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Canyon Pictures
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Salida, Colorado, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "My Brother Down There" by Steve Frazee in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (Apr 1953).

Articles

Doris Dowling (1923-2004)


Doris Dowling, the sultry actress who made a memorable film debut as the saloon hooker in Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend died on June 18 in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was 81.

Doris Dowling was born on May 15, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan. She showed an interest in acting at a young age, and after a few years of stage work in the Midwest, she joined her older sister, the leading lady Constance Dowling, in Hollywood. Paramount soon took notice of the sultry brunette with the soulful expression and husky voice, and promptly signed her to a contract.

She made a stunning film debut as Gloria, the hooker who befriends Ray Milland at a bar, becoming his good-humored confidante in The Lost Weekend (1945); she followed that up in the overlooked, film noir gem, The Blue Dahlia (1946), playing Alan Ladd's shrewish wife before being killed by a mystery killer in the first reel. She made another noir thriller, the forgettable, The Crimson Key (1947), playing, once again, an unsympathetic part before heading off to Europe. Once there, Italian director Giuseppe de Santis used her effectively in Bitter Rice (1948), arguably her best performance as the jewelry thief hiding among women rice workers in Northern Italy; another notable role was as Bianca in Orson Welles' French production of Othello (1951).

She returned to Hollywood in the late '50s, and spent the next three decades doing television work: Bonanza, Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Barnaby Jones, and The Streets of San Francisco, just to name a few. She retired quietly from acting by the early '80s. She was briefly married to bandleader Artie Shaw (1952-56), and is survived by her son through that marriage, Jonathan; and her husband of 44 years, Leonard Kaufman.

by Michael T. Toole
Doris Dowling (1923-2004)

Doris Dowling (1923-2004)

Doris Dowling, the sultry actress who made a memorable film debut as the saloon hooker in Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend died on June 18 in Los Angeles of natural causes. She was 81. Doris Dowling was born on May 15, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan. She showed an interest in acting at a young age, and after a few years of stage work in the Midwest, she joined her older sister, the leading lady Constance Dowling, in Hollywood. Paramount soon took notice of the sultry brunette with the soulful expression and husky voice, and promptly signed her to a contract. She made a stunning film debut as Gloria, the hooker who befriends Ray Milland at a bar, becoming his good-humored confidante in The Lost Weekend (1945); she followed that up in the overlooked, film noir gem, The Blue Dahlia (1946), playing Alan Ladd's shrewish wife before being killed by a mystery killer in the first reel. She made another noir thriller, the forgettable, The Crimson Key (1947), playing, once again, an unsympathetic part before heading off to Europe. Once there, Italian director Giuseppe de Santis used her effectively in Bitter Rice (1948), arguably her best performance as the jewelry thief hiding among women rice workers in Northern Italy; another notable role was as Bianca in Orson Welles' French production of Othello (1951). She returned to Hollywood in the late '50s, and spent the next three decades doing television work: Bonanza, Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Barnaby Jones, and The Streets of San Francisco, just to name a few. She retired quietly from acting by the early '80s. She was briefly married to bandleader Artie Shaw (1952-56), and is survived by her son through that marriage, Jonathan; and her husband of 44 years, Leonard Kaufman. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of the film was Summer Game. After the release of the film, Western writer Steve Frazee expanded his story into a novel, published in 1957 under the film's title. Running Target was shot on location near Frazee's birthplace of Salida, CO.