The Lonesome Trail
Cast & Crew
When Johnny Rush returns to Lonesome Valley after working for the Army escorting Apaches back to their reservation, he finds that his land is cordoned off by barbed wire and his cabin has been burned to the ground. As Johnny is surveying the damage, two strangers shoot at him. Johnny then goes to visit his old friend, Crazy Charley Bonesteel, who explains that Harold "Hal" Brecker, Jr. is behind the burning, and that since Brecker's father died, he has taken over the valley. Johnny is confused, as old man Brecker had planned on changing the incorrect valley survey that placed his, Charley's and Dan Wells's land inside the Brecker area. The old man died before he could change the survey, however, and Brecker not only has attempted to evict Charley, but, along with his gunmen, whom he calls "deputies," has been running the nearby town of Tyrone. Charley is weary of fighting and intends to hide in his dugout near the Apache reservation, but Johnny is determined to regain his land. Johnny then visits Dan, his wife and daughter Pat, who was Johnny's childhood sweetheart. Although Dan and Pat are delighted to see Johnny, who has been away for a year, Dan, an invalid who is mostly confined to a wheelchair, admits that he has struck a deal with Brecker for them to stay on their land. Johnny is angry when they explain that the "deal" is for Pat to marry Brecker, but Pat defends her father's decision, stating that it is their only weapon against Brecker. Johnny persuades Pat to stall the marriage until he can find a different resolution, then shows her an Indian brooch he found in the smoky debris of his house and tells her that the brooch belonged to his mother, who died when he was born. Johnny rides into Tyrone, to the saloon run by his friend, Dandy Dayton, and becomes involved in a fight with one of Brecker's men, Larry Baker, who then alerts Brecker that Johnny is in town. When Brecker enters the saloon, the two, who are longtime enemies, argue about the land. Brecker insults Johnny, calling him a "half-breed," and orders him to leave Tyrone. A gunfight ensues in the street, but Johnny manages to escape on horseback. Baker follows Johnny, however, shoots him and leaves him for dead. Gonaja, an Apache Indian who is friends with Charley, finds Johnny and takes him to Charley. The men use a pallet to carry Johnny to Charley's dugout, where Charley tends to the still-unconscious Johnny. Charley is curious about why Gonaja would help an Army scout like Johnny, and so Gonaja explains that he found Johnny clutching the brooch, which Gonaja had made long ago for a young Apache Indian girl named Morning Star, who left her tribe to marry a white man. Gonaja now realizes that Morning Star was Johnny's mother and hopes that someday he will acknowledge his Indian heritage. Johnny begins a slow recovery and is disappointed that, because he was shot in his right shoulder, he has difficulty drawing his gun. Impressed by Charley's archery skills, Johnny asks him to teach him to use a bow and arrow, hoping to rehabilitate his arm. Meanwhile, Brecker has sworn out a warrant against Johnny, although Baker assured him that Johnny was dead, in order to ruin Johnny's reputation in case he is alive. Brecker also begins to pressure Pat about their marriage. Later, Gonaja goes to see Pat and give her a message from Johnny. Pat is thrilled to learn that Johnny is alive, but Johnny is unhappy to hear that Brecker is attempting to hasten the marriage. Determined to stop Brecker, Johnny prepares to go to Tyrone, despite Charley's pleas that he did not nurse him back to health in order for him to get himself killed. At the Wells home, Dan is telling Pat that he is aware of her feelings for Johnny, and that he is going to town to confront Brecker. After Johnny departs, Charley prepares his ancient rifle and heads to town to back him up. Unknown to Charley, Johnny goes first to see Pat, but she is not at home. Mrs. Wells explains that when Dan did not return, Pat went into town to find him. As he then rides to town, Johnny sees one of Hal's men, Jed Hartel, dragging Dan's dead body into some brush, and kills Hartel. Meanwhile, Pat has gone to the saloon and gotten into a fight with Mae, Brecker's slatternly girl friend. Pat and Mae both storm off, after which, Charley, brandishing his old rifle, enters the saloon and forces Brecker at gunpoint to sign a contract transferring ownership of the land back to Charley, Johnny and Dan. Charley escapes with the contract, which is written inside his Bible, but is followed by one of Brecker's gunmen, Walt Driscoll. Driscoll catches up with Charley and shoots him, then takes the Bible. Johnny soon finds him, and when Pat comes upon them, Johnny tells her that one of Brecker's men has killed her father. He instructs her to stay with Charley and rides back to town, armed only with Charley's bow and arrow. After shooting Driscoll and Baker with arrows and retrieving the Bible, Johnny fights Brecker, bow and arrow against a gun, and kills him. Gonaja, accompanied by Pat, then comes into town carrying Charley. As the townspeople gather, Charley instructs Johnny to tell Pat that "there's nothing wrong with being part Indian." Johnny acknowledges that he has known that he is part Indian for a long time and that he is now happy and proud of it, and Pat lovingly accepts his mother's brooch.
J. A. Wenzel
TCM Remembers - John Agar
Popular b-movie actor John Agar died April 7th at the age of 81. Agar is probably best known as the actor that married Shirley Temple in 1945 but he also appeared alongside John Wayne in several films. Agar soon became a fixture in such films as Tarantula (1955) and The Mole People (1956) and was a cult favorite ever since, something he took in good spirits and seemed to enjoy. In 1972, for instance, the fan magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland mistakenly ran his obituary, a piece that Agar would later happily autograph.
Agar was born January 31, 1921 in Chicago. He had been a sergeant in the Army Air Corps working as a physical trainer when he was hired in 1945 to escort 16-year-old Shirley Temple to a Hollywood party. Agar apparently knew Temple earlier since his sister was a classmate of Temple's. Despite the objections of Temple's mother the two became a couple and were married shortly after. Temple's producer David Selznick asked Agar if he wanted to act but he reportedly replied that one actor in the family was enough. Nevertheless, Selznick paid for acting lessons and signed Agar to a contract.
Agar's first film was the John Ford-directed Fort Apache (1948) also starring Temple. Agar and Temple also both appeared in Adventure in Baltimore (1949) and had a daughter in 1948 but were divorced the following year. Agar married again in 1951 which lasted until his wife's death in 2000. Agar worked in a string of Westerns and war films such as Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Breakthrough (1950) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Later when pressed for money he began making the films that would establish his reputation beyond the gossip columns: Revenge of the Creature (1955), The Brain from Planet Arous (1957), Invisible Invaders (1959) and the mind-boggling Zontar, the Thing from Venus (1966). The roles became progressively smaller so Agar sold insurance and real estate on the side. When he appeared in the 1988 film Miracle Mile his dialogue supposedly included obscenities which Agar had always refused to use. He showed the director a way to do the scene without that language and that's how it was filmed.
By Lang Thompson
DUDLEY MOORE, 1935-2002
Award-winning actor, comedian and musician Dudley Moore died on March 27th at the age of 66. Moore first gained notice in his native England for ground-breaking stage and TV comedy before later building a Hollywood career. Like many of his peers, he had an amiable, open appeal that was balanced against a sharply satiric edge. Moore could play the confused innocent as well as the crafty schemer and tended to command attention wherever he appeared. Among his four marriages were two actresses: Tuesday Weld and Suzy Kendall.
Moore was born April 19, 1935 in London. As a child, he had a club foot later corrected by years of surgery that often left him recuperating in the hospital alongside critically wounded soldiers. Moore attended Oxford where he earned a degree in musical composition and met future collaborators Peter Cook, Jonathan Miller and Alan Bennett. The four formed the landmark comedy ensemble Beyond the Fringe. Though often merely labelled as a precursor to Monty Python's Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe was instrumental in the marriage of the piercing, highly educated sense of humor cultivated by Oxbridge graduates to the modern mass media. In this case it was the revue stage and television where Beyond the Fringe first assaulted the astonished minds of Britons. Moore supplied the music and such songs as "The Sadder and Wiser Beaver," "Man Bites God" and "One Leg Too Few." (You can pick up a CD set with much of the stage show. Unfortunately for future historians the BBC commonly erased tapes at this period - why? - so many of the TV episodes are apparently gone forever.)
Moore's first feature film was the 1966 farce The Wrong Box (a Robert Louis Stevenson adaptation) but it was his collaboration with Peter Cook on Bedazzled (1967) that's endured. Unlike its tepid 2000 remake, the original Bedazzled is a wolverine-tough satire of mid-60s culture that hasn't aged a bit: viewers are still as likely to be appalled and entertained at the same time. Moore not only co-wrote the story with Cook but composed the score. Moore appeared in a few more films until starring in 10 (1979). Written and directed by Blake Edwards, this amiable comedy featured Moore (a last-minute replacement for George Segal) caught in a middle-aged crisis and proved popular with both audiences and critics. Moore's career took another turn when his role as a wealthy alcoholic who falls for the proverbial shop girl in Arthur (1981) snagged him an Oscar nomination as Best Actor and a Golden Globe win.
However Moore was never able to build on these successes. He starred in a passable remake of Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours (1984), did another Blake Edwards romantic comedy of moderate interest called Micki + Maude (1984, also a Golden Globe winner for Moore), a misfired sequel to Arthur in 1988 and a few other little-seen films. The highlight of this period must certainly be the 1991 series Orchestra where Moore spars with the wonderfully crusty conductor Georg Solti and leads an orchestra of students in what's certainly some of the most delightful television ever made.
By Lang Thompson
TCM Remembers - John Agar
You don't never use a bow on a man, boy, only on animals.- Old Trapper
Yeah. That's right. Only on animals!- Rush
According to Hollywood Reporter production charts and news items, this film was shot in Chatsworth and Agoura, CA, and at the William Broidy Studio. A January 31, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Wallace Ford to the cast, but his appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed.