The Halliday Brand
Cast & Crew
Joseph H. Lewis
When Clay Halliday tracks down his fugitive brother Daniel with a request from their dying father, Big Dan, to return home for a reconciliation, Daniel, who has come to loathe his tyrannical father, refuses until his brother mentions that Big Dan has granted Clay permission to marry half-breed Aleta Burris. Believing that his father has changed, Daniel follows Clay home. Before entering his father's room, Daniel recalls the events that led up to their estrangement: Big Dan, the iron-willed sheriff of the territory, proudly presents Daniel, his favorite son, with a set of silver-plated pistols and begs him to reconsider his decision not to become his deputy. Content to manage the family ranch, Daniel refuses, and Big Dan then recruits the weak-willed Clay for the post. When rumors begin to circulate that Jivaro Burris, the Halliday's head wrangler, has a mistress, Big Dan rides to investigate and enters Jivaro's cabin to find his daughter, Martha, embracing the wrangler. Outraged that a half-breed would dare fall in love with his daughter, Big Dan orders Jivaro to leave the ranch. Soon after, Jivaro becomes implicated in cattle rustling and murder when he tries to turn back a stampeding herd after a gang of cattle thieves murders a neighboring rancher. Despite Jivaro's pleas of innocence, Big Dan arrests him. As an enraged mob assembles outside the jailhouse, Big Dan rides off and leaves the jail unguarded, thus allowing the mob to break in and lynch Jivaro. Jivaro's hanging alienates both Martha and Daniel from their father, and after denouncing him, Daniel forsakes the ranch and rides to tell storekeeper Chad Burris of his son's death. While consoling Aleta, Jivaro's sister, Daniel begins to fall in love with her. Soon after Daniel rides off, Big Dan comes looking for his son. When Chad accuses him of murder, Big Dan goads him into drawing his gun and then shoots him down. Hearing gunfire, Daniel returns and vows retribution on his father. Although Aleta attempts to calm him down and begs him to stay with her, Daniel, embittered and vengeful, departs. Deprived of all those dear to her, Aleta falls ill and Martha takes her home to nurse her back to health. At the ranch, Clay falls in love with Aleta, but she returns home once she has recovered. Meanwhile, to retaliate against his father, Daniel defies the law by stampeding cattle, torching buildings and robbing banks, declaring that he will not desist until his father resigns as sheriff. Although the townspeople beg for his resignation, Big Dan, obsessed with bringing his son to justice, refuses to abandon his quest and continues his search alone. Finally coming face to face, father and son engage in a violent fistfight in which Big Dan suffers a crippling stroke. As his thoughts return to the present, Daniel enters his father's bedroom and Big Dan pulls a gun from under the covers and aims it at his son. Martha, armed with her own pistol, pulls the weapon from her father's hand and slips it into a drawer. When Big Dan rescinds his permission for Clay to marry Aleta, declaring that it was just a ploy to bring Daniel home, all three children, now completely alienated from their father, turn their backs and leave him to die alone. Crawling from his bed, Big Dan retrieves his gun from the drawer and hobbles after them. When Daniel dares him to shoot, he collapses, unable to fire, and then dies.
Joseph H. Lewis
Jay C. Flippen
George W. George
George F. Slavin
The Halliday Brand
A low-budget effort produced by Collier Young (Private Hell 36, 1954) and directed by B-movie maverick Joseph H. Lewis (Terror in a Texas Town, 1958), the film, according to film scholar Francis M. Nevins (author of Joseph H. Lewis), deconstructs the "family empire" concepts that became popular in TV series such as Bonanza and reshapes them "into something closer to the Greek myths about the fall of the house of Atreus." Told in flashback from the deathbed of Big Dan (Ward Bond), the local sheriff and tyrannical patriarch of the Halliday family, the film relates the internal conflicts which have torn the family apart and divided the two brothers, Daniel (Joseph Cotten) and Clay (Bill Williams). Daniel rejects his father's racist attitudes and ruthless sense of justice by giving up his inheritance. He strikes out on his own after Jivaro (Christopher Dark), a half breed who loves his sister, Martha (Betsy Blair), is falsely accused of cattle rustling and murder by Big Dan and killed by a lynch mob. Months later, Daniel is enticed back to the Halliday ranch when he learns his father has consented to the marriage of Clay and Aleta (Viveca Lindfors), Jivaro's sister, but it proves to be only a ploy by Big Dan to confront and arrest his rebellious son for past violations of the law.
The tense, volatile relationship between Big Dan and Daniel has obvious Oedipal overtones and becomes progressively darker as the father-son bond is completely severed by hatred and irreconcilable differences. The grim trajectory of the narrative and its emphasis on character over action often makes The Halliday Brand seem closer in tone and style to a film noir than a Western. Certainly it is no conventional oater and some may find the movie overly arty and pretentious due to the self-conscious acting styles and claustrophobic staging which resembles a theatre play and not a movie.
The cast of The Halliday Brand was initially announced in an article in The Hollywood Reporter in March 1956 and included Ida Lupino, Howard Duff, Charles Bickford and "either Rita Moreno or Debra Paget." The article also mentioned Robert Stevenson as a possible director. None of those people ended up being involved in the production but the mention of Ida Lupino may have been due to the fact that Halliday producer Collier Young was married to her from 1948-1951 and continued to work with her and her next husband, actor Howard Duff, throughout the fifties.
Made in the wake of the House Un-American Activities Committee investigations of communist infiltrators in Hollywood, The Halliday Brand was especially significant for Lewis's decision to cast Betsy Blair in a key role. Blair had previously been blacklisted by the film industry as a leftist sympathizer even though she had never been given a trial to prove her innocence. Lewis also cast Ward Bond as the self-righteous Halliday patriarch, a role which matched Bond's off-screen reputation as one of Hollywood's most outspoken conservative reactionaries. According to Blair in her autobiography, The Memory of All That, the actress was told by Lewis that Bond "was the reason I must be in the film. Lew said if I appeared in a movie with Ward Bond, the studios would assume that I'd been officially removed from the blacklist. And the wonderful roles would follow."
When Blair went to meet Bond on the set during the first day of shooting, she anticipated a negative reaction but related in her memoir, "He confounded me and my expectations....he was already ensconced in one of the reclining barbershop chairs in front of the long row of mirrors. The assistant made the introductions. Did he just look up and nod? No, he straightened his chair, stood up, shook my hand properly, and welcomed me aboard. I was playing his daughter in the film, and he gave me a fatherly smile. And that was it. He was unfailingly polite, on time, ready to run through scenes if any of us wanted to, always knew his lines. There was no cause for complaint. I had to remind myself that I hated what he believed. I couldn't hate him as a fellow actor."
Unfortunately, The Halliday Brand did not lead to more lucrative acting offers from Hollywood for Blair so, following a divorce from her husband (singer/dancer Gene Kelly), she relocated to Europe where she appeared in several critically acclaimed and offbeat features including Michelangelo Antonioni's Il Grido , Basil Dearden's All Night Long , Mauro Bolognini's Senilita  and Claude Berri's Marry Me! Marry Me! . She got remarried in 1963 to director Karel Reisz and moved to London where she lived for the next thirty-nine years.
When The Halliday Brand opened in theatres in the U.S., it fared no better than most B-movies of that era. It had a brief theatrical run and then vanished. Its reputation is considerably better today now that Joseph H. Lewis's career as a director has been reassessed and championed by such high profile cinema buffs as Martin Scorsese. Phil Hardy, editor of The Encyclopedia of Western Movies, states that The Halliday Brand "is undoubtedly the most powerful of Lewis' Westerns in the fifties." Lewis, of course, is also the gifted auteur who gave us such unforgettable film noir gems as Gun Crazy  and The Big Combo . One of the more succinct reappraisals of The Halliday Brand is this review excerpt by Paul Taylor from the TimeOut Film Guide: "If ever a movie justified the once-modish tag of 'psychological Western,' it's this one. Lewis' film has been unforgivably neglected, for it matches his unique visual intelligence to a remarkably explicit critique of patriarchal law...The psychological - and political - resonances are specified in the clarity of Lewis' visual metaphors (the gun in the foreground, dead wood littering the frame, which gloriously transcend the minor irritants of miscasting and underbudgeting. Impressive."
Producer: Collier Young
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Screenplay: George W. George, George F. Slavin
Cinematography: Ray Rennahan
Art Direction: David S. Garber
Music: Stanley Wilson
Film Editing: Michael Luciano, Stuart O'Brien
Cast: Joseph Cotten (Daniel Halliday), Viveca Lindfors (Aleta Burris), Betsy Blair (Martha Halliday), Ward Bond (Big Dan Halliday), Bill Williams (Clay Halliday), Jay C. Flippen (Chad Burris), Christopher Dark (Jivaro Burris), Jeanette Nolan (Nante), Peter Ortiz (Manuel).
by Jeff Stafford
The Halliday Brand
Although a March 1956 "Rambling Reporter" item in Hollywood Reporter notes that Ida Lupino, Howard Duff, Charles Bickford and either Rita Moreno or Debra Paget were to be in the cast, none of those actors appeared in the film. That news item also adds that Robert Stevenson was to direct. A July 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that Roderic Redwing was to work as an actor and technical advisor on The Halliday Brand, but his contribution to the released film has not been determined. According to another July 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was shot on location at Newhall, CA.