Cast & Crew
In Lordsburg, New Mexico, a local man remembers the events that led up to the 1871 shootout at Keane's stockyards: The atmosphere in Lordsburg's Oriental Saloon is charged as Sheriff Harry McNair, his brother and deputy, Vince, and their friend, gambler and saloon owner Brett Wade, warily keep an eye on troublemakers Floyd "Old Man" Ferris and his sons Tom, Earl and young Buddy. Also there are close Ferris friend Jimmy Rapp and Brett's enemy, rival casino owner Dick Braden. Braden offers to buy Brett's saloon, but Brett replies that he will not let Braden cheat the people of Lordsburg the way he does the citizens of Socorro. Soon after, Rapp takes a drunken Buddy's gun for safekeeping and returns to his hotel to drink himself to sleep, but the moment he leaves, Buddy grabs dancing girl Clare. When Harry tries to throw him out, Buddy grabs a gun and shoots at him, and Harry is forced to kill Buddy in self-defense. Meanwhile, Rannah Hayes is dropped at the hotel by her father, Jebb, who calls her a Jezebel. The scene is witnessed by Braden, who offers the lovely girl a job at his casino, which she spurns. Hours later, Rannah listens through her hotel room wall as the Ferrises attempt to revive Rapp so he can help them win a dawn duel against Harry, Vince and Brett in revenge for Buddy's death. When the sun rises, Rannah and Clare both watch as the duel begins. During the ensuing shootout, Rapp realizes what is happening and attempts to join the fray, but stumbles drunkenly and falls. Within minutes, Floyd and Tom are killed, Earl escapes on horseback, and Vince and Brett receive minor wounds. As Doc Jameson tends Brett's shoulder wound, he hears the gambler's wracking cough and deduces that a bullet with which Brett was shot while protecting Harry during the Civil War, has lodged in his lung. He advises Brett that unless he moves to the mountains and stops drinking, he will soon die. Brett at first responds by throwing a funeral party for himself at the saloon, but soon after announces that he is moving to Colorado Springs to regain his health. He boards a stagecoach bound for Socorro, where he will then catch the train to Colorado. Also on board are Rannah, who has decided to accept Braden's job offer, and Rapp, whose guilt over the loss of Floyd has resulted in a homicidal desire to kill Brett. At the first stage stop, Rannah offers Brett cough tonic, and he, impressed by her gentility, flirts with her. She lies that she is going to Socorro to be married, and they trade images of their respective idyllic futures. When they board the stage again, Rannah spots Earl, who has been trailing Brett, and pushes Brett out of the way of a bullet, allowing him time to grab Rapp's gun and shoot down Earl. Horrified, Rapp demands his gun back but, unwilling to shoot an unarmed man, returns to the stagecoach. There, Rannah questions Rapp's deep hatred for Brett, and the gunman responds that Brett's wasted life reminds him of his own. They reach Socorro, where Sheriff Calhoun demands that Brett leave town on the next train. Brett agrees, until he sees Rannah with Braden and realizes that she is Braden's new saloon girl. Concerned for her, he sneaks off the train before it leaves and enters Braden's casino. Meanwhile, Braden shows Rannah her new room and revealing dresses and explains that she must "entertain" the casino guests and leave her door unlocked at all times for him to enter as he pleases. When he leaves, Rannah whispers the word "Jezebel." Downstairs, saloon girl Letty Diamond greets Brett, her old friend, and confesses her sadness at what her life has become. Spotting Rannah, Brett tells her that she must leave before she is ruined. She reveals that her father, who wrongly assumed she was a wanton woman, has kicked her out and she belongs here. Angry, he drags her upstairs, but when she bitterly goes along with him, he slaps her and leaves. Braden then enters and tells Rannah that Brett must leave on the morning train, or die. As the night progresses, Brett wins thousands of dollars at the casino, foiling Braden's attempts to cheat him. With only minutes left before his train, he challenges Braden to a poker game for the casino. Braden wins the hand, and a defeated Brett explains to Rannah that he has failed to free her from Braden. She collapses in his arms, weeping, and when Braden states that Rannah belongs with him, Brett punches him and leaves to wait for the train. Braden and Rapp then tie up Calhoun and go after Brett. Rapp gives Brett a gun, and after the two face off in the street, Brett shoots only a fraction before Rapp does, killing him. Braden then lunges at Brett, forcing the gambler to kill him. Dismayed that he cannot escape his violent past, Brett boards the train. As he begins to cough, he is overjoyed to see Rannah sitting next to him, offering him a tonic for the long ride to Colorado Springs.
Lee Van Cleef
Glenn E. Anderson
Leslie I. Carey
Russell A. Gausman
Ruby R. Levitt
Jay Morley Jr.
Joan St. Oegger
Dawn at Socorro
The picture might not have been quite the success it was if it had been marketed as Dawn at Socorro, starring Francis Durgin and Rosetta Jacobs. Of course, it was pretty common for Hollywood studios to give their young star-hopefuls new names: Lucille LeSueur became Joan Crawford, Archie Leach morphed into Cary Grant, etc. By the 50s, however, some of these pseudonyms had taken on rather unearthly proportions. Piper Laurie? Tab Hunter? Mamie Van Doren?
"Back then, everyone was Lana and Rock. No one had ethnic names," Laurie said in a 1995 interview. "I would still love to be using my name. I've always felt robbed of something by people not knowing I was a Jew. But I was so young and not assertive enough to say no."
Laurie, whose family and closest friends nevertheless continued to call her Rosie, was given the name when she signed with Universal at the age of 17 in 1949 for a role in Louisa (1950), starring Ronald Reagan (with whom she became good friends). The new moniker seemed to work well for the pretty but shy young ingénue...and it was still with her years later when she changed her image considerably by delivering such emotionally powerful performances as Paul Newman's crippled girlfriend in The Hustler (1961) and, after a screen absence of 15 years, as Sissy Spacek's evangelical nutcase mother in Carrie (1976).
Calhoun, on the other hand, had an image more suited for his tough Hollywood name, supplied by Henry Willson, the same agent who discovered and invented screen names for Rock Hudson, Guy Madison and Troy Donahue. As a teenager he dropped out of high school and ended up in a federal reformatory for car theft. He eventually found work as a lumberjack and was discovered by Alan Ladd while riding horses in the Hollywood Hills. Ladd gave him a start in pictures under his stepfather's surname, McCown, but his career really took off after the change to Rory Calhoun. The actor would find himself in the saddle dozens of times over the next four-plus decades in films and on television, where he did a stint on the late-50s western series The Texan.
Director George Sherman was no stranger to westerns, either. From his very first (uncredited) directorial effort, Hollywood Cowboy (1937), through the next 50 years or so, he worked almost exclusively in the genre. Although his pictures were generally low-budget programmers and his reputation never reached the heights of a Ford, Hawks, Boetticher or Mann, Sherman was identified strongly enough with westerns to be presented the Golden Boot Award in 1988, an honor bestowed on those who have made significant contributions to the development and preservation of the western tradition in film and television. As producer of The Comancheros (1961), Sherman also shared a Western Heritage Award with the director, writers and cast of that picture. The film's star was John Wayne, who appeared in Sherman's last feature, Big Jake (1971). That was the first time Sherman had directed his old friend since 1939 when they completed the last of a string of eight westerns at Republic studios (shortly before Wayne's breakthrough to stardom with Stagecoach, 1939). In fact, after Sherman began experiencing health problems on Big Jake, Wayne refused to let him be taken off the picture and ended up directing much of it himself, without credit. Wayne's real name, by the way, was Marion Morrison, which was not exactly synonymous with his image either.
At least one other player in Dawn at Socorro experienced a name change too. California-born Marilyn Watts went from chorus girl to model to sultry supporting player (and Playboy's 1958 Playmate of the Year) under the more alluring name of Mara Corday. She was married for many years to actor Richard Long, often best remembered for his role in the western TV series The Big Valley. Since Long's death in 1974, Corday has found ample work as a supporting player in the movies of her friend Clint Eastwood. One of Eastwood's first screen roles was an uncredited bit in Tarantula (1955), a sci-fi film that starred Mara Corday.
One final fact of note about this picture: It was produced by William Alland, who got his start as an actor in Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre and made his screen debut as the shadowy reporter seeking the meaning of "Rosebud" in Citizen Kane (1941). Alland's 15-year producing career, almost exclusively at Universal, encompassed mainly sci-fi pictures, such as the classic Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), and westerns, including The Rare Breed (1966), starring James Stewart.
Director: George Sherman
Producer: William Alland
Screenplay: George Zuckerman
Cinematography: Carl Guthrie
Editing: Edward Curtiss
Art Direction: Robert Clatworthy, Alexander Golitzen
Original Music: Frank Skinner, Herman Stein
Cast: Rory Calhoun (Brett Wade), Piper Laurie (Rannah Hayes), David Brian (Dick Braden), Alex Nicol (Jimmy Rapp), Edgar Buchanan (Sheriff Cauthen), Mara Corday (Letty Diamond).
by Rob Nixon
Dawn at Socorro
Who's coming after you?- Station Agent
My past. Every dark, miserable day of it.- Brett Wade
Well, this is an honor. Probably the first time a corpse has ever been asked to deliver his own funeral oration. I expected to be carried out of Lordsburg, but here I stand on my way to Colorado filled with wind instead of lead. I couldn't include most of you in my will, but I do leave you all the unmined silver in these hills, all the unspilled whiskey, all the unkissed ladies and all the unfilled straights and flushes. I want to apologize for leaving the party. For me, there never has been, and never will be, another like it. And finally, I want to apologize to all of those of you who hoped to gain the distinction of being the man or woman to shoot and kill the notorious Brett Wade.- Brett Wade
No apologies necessary, Wade. I'm here to oblige you.- Jimmy Rapp
According to Universal press materials, some scenes were shot on location in Apple Valley, CA. Modern sources add Dick Curtis to the cast.