Cast & Crew
Wild Bill Elliott
In Waco, Texas, newly hired stage driver Matt Boone enters a poker game. When local rancher Bull Clark cheats at the game and Matt accuses him, Clark pulls a gun and fast-drawing Matt is forced to shoot him. Faced with the certainty of an unfair trial arranged by Clark's cronies, Matt flees town. Businessmen William Richards and Farley watch as the posse that went after Matt comes back empty-handed, agreeing that their corrupt town has once again turned on an innocent man. Over the next weeks, Matt narrowly escapes from every town in the county. When he stumbles onto a secret path in the hills, however, he is caught by outlaw Lou Garcia and brought back to his gang's hideout. Gang leader John Curly Ivers is convinced that Matt is one of Clark's men, and prepares to shoot him. Matt announces that he has shot Clark, and when no one believes that he could outdraw the rancher, Matt proves his talent by besting Garcia. With no other choice, Matt then joins the gang. That night, Curly reveals that most of the men in the gang, including himself, were similarly forced into becoming outlaws by corrupt lawmen who chased them into hiding. They spend the next month robbing banks across Texas, and during a job in Pecos, hot-headed Garcia ignores Curly's orders never to shoot without cause. After Garcia kills a banker, the sheriff shoots Matt in the leg and captures him. Matt recovers in jail, only to discover that Farley and Richards have paid a fee to have him tried for murder in Waco. Although Matt expects a crooked trial, Richards and Farley testify on his behalf and he is acquitted. After the trial, however, the two men, hoping Matt's quick draw will discourage outlaws from entering the town, force him to take over as sheriff in order to avoid being tried for robbery in other counties. In the saloon that night, Clark's daughter Kathy, who now runs his ranch, vows to see Matt jailed again. Curly then summons Matt to a meeting in the hills. Although Garcia views Matt's position as an open invitation to wreak havoc in Waco, Curly agrees with Matt that the sheriff cannot be on both sides of the law simultaneously, and vows to keep the gang out of Waco. Weeks later, a poker game sours when visiting outlaw Crawford kills a fellow player. Matt, realizing no one will testify against Crawford as long as his murderous partner, Ace Logan, is in town, arrests Crawford and gives Logan one hour to leave. Logan refuses to leave, forcing Matt to outdraw and kill him, after which Crawford is arrested and hanged. Kathy still mistrusts Matt and informs him that she is traveling to the governor to have Matt fired. Just as she leaves on the stage, however, Garcia, hiding out in the hills above the city, decides to rob the stage. Discovering Kathy aboard, he kidnaps her, and when Matt hears, he goes alone to the hideout. There, Matt takes Garcia's gun and warns him to leave town. When he then escorts Kathy home, she thanks him and apologizes. Soon after, Texas Ranger Carmuty arrives with Curly as his prisoner and asks Matt to hold him for his trial. From the cell, Curly explains to Matt that Garcia killed another man during a robbery, after which Curly was captured and Garcia escaped, vowing to kill Matt before his own inevitable capture. Matt removes his star and frees Curly, declaring his intent to rid the world of Garcia. After he leaves, however, Curly shuts himself back in the cell and informs Kathy that he sent Matt in the wrong direction in order to keep him distracted until dark, when Garcia is sure to return to town and be trapped by the Rangers. Just as Curly has predicted, Garcia enters the jail at sundown and, although Curly tries to shoot him, Garcia kills the older man. Matt returns in time to hear the shot and kill Garcia in a shootout. Before he dies, Curly hands the sheriff's star back to Matt. Weeks later, children play in the safe streets of Waco as Kathy heads to the sheriff's office to visit her new boyfriend.
Wild Bill Elliott
House Peters Jr.
Vincent M. Fennelly
TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th
PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE
Callaway Went Thataway (1951)
Ride, Vaquero! (1953)
War Wagon (1967)
"MGM Parade Show #14"
(Keel talks with George Murphy about his latest MGM picture "Kismet")(1955)
Kiss Me Kate (1953)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
HOWARD KEEL (1919-2004):
Howard Keel, the strapping singer and actor whose glorious baritone took him to stardom in the early '50s in some of MGM's best musicals, including Showboat, Kiss Me Kate and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, died on November 7 of colon cancer at his home in Palm Desert, California. He was 85.
He was born Harry Clifford Leek on April 13, 1919, in Gillespie, Illinois. His father, was a coal miner and his mother, a strict Methodist, forbid the children from enjoying popular entertainments. When his dad died, his mother relocated the family to California when Harry was still a young teenager.
After he graduated high school, Keel had a brief stint as a singing busboy, but had not considered a professional career as a vocalist....until one fateful evening in 1939. It was at this time he saw celebrated opera singer, Lawrence Tibbett, at the Hollywood Bowl. Keel was inspired, and he soon began taking voice lessons. Over the next several years, he carefully trained his voice while entering any singing contest he could find. It wasn't long before his talents caught the attention of Rodgers & Hammerstein.
In 1946, they signed him to replace John Raitt in the Broadway production of Carousel, changed his name to Howard Keel (His proper surname Leek spelled backwards), and Keel was on his way to international stardom.
After his run in Carousel ended, he sailed to London the following year to play the role of Curley in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma. He received rave reviews from the London press, and by the time he returned to the United States in 1948, he was ready to make his move into films.
Keel made his movie debut in the British thriller, The Small Voice (1948), but it would be his second film, and first for MGM, portraying Frank Butler, Betty Hutton's leading man in Annie Get Your Gun (1950), that sealed his success. Keel's several strengths as a performer: his supple, commanding singing voice; his athletic, 6'4" frame; striking, "matinee-idol" good looks; and his good humored personality made him one of the studios' top leading men over the next few years. Indeed, between 1951-55, Keel could do not wrong with the material he was given: Show Boat (1951), Lovely to Look at (1952), Kiss Me Kate (1953), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), and Kismet (1955). Clearly, he was a shining star in this golden era of the MGM musical.
By the late '50s, movie musicals began to fade out of fashion, but Keel returned to the stage and had success performing with several touring companies. He made a brief return to films when he was cast as a seaman battling carnivorous plants from outer space in the popular British sci-fi hit, The Day of the Triffids (1962). Television also provided some work, where he guest starred in some of the more popular shows in the late '60s including Run For Your Life, and The Lucy Show.
Keel would keep a low profile over the next decade, but he made an amazing comeback in 1981, when he was cast as Clayton Farlow, Ellie Ewing's (Barbara Bel Geddes) second husband in the wildly successful prime time soap, Dallas. Not only did he play the role for ten seasons, but Keel would also be in demand for many other shows throughout the '80s and '90s: The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, and Walker, Texas Ranger, to name a but a few. By the late-'90s, Keel retired to his home in Palm Desert, California, where still made public appearances now and again for a tribute or benefit. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Judy; a son, Gunnar; daughters, Kaija, Kristina and Leslie; 10 grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter.
by Michael T. Toole
Important Milestones on Howard Keel:
Moved to Southern California at age 16 (date approximate)
Worked as a singing busboy in a Los Angeles cafe
Worked for Douglas Aircraft as a manufacturing representative travelling among various company plants; work included singing; won a first prize award at the Mississippi Valley while on the road; also won an award at the Chicago Music Festival
Began singing career with the American Music Theatre in Pasadena, California
Chosen by Oscar Hammerstein II to perform on Broadway in "Carousel"; succeeded John Raitt in the leading role of Billy Bigelow; also took over the leading role of Curly in "Oklahoma"
Recreated the role of Curly when he opened the London stage production of "Oklahoma"
Made feature film debut in a non-singing supporting role in the British crime drama, "The Small Voice"
Signed by MGM; became instant star as the male lead of "Annie Get Your Gun"
Provided the offscreen narration for the Western saga, "Across the Wide Missouri", starring Clark Gable
First film opposite Kathryn Grayson, "Show Boat"
First leading role in a non-musical, "Desperate Search"
Made best-remembered film, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers"
Last musical starring roles, and last musicals for MGM, "Jupiter's Darling" and "Kismet"
Went to Britain to play the leading role in the action drama, "Floods of Fear"
Last leading role, "Red Tomahawk"
Last feature film appearance for over 20 years, "Arizona Bushwhackers"
Starred on the London stage in the musical "Ambassador"; later brought the role to Broadway (date approximate)
Toured the nightclub circuit, sometimes teaming up with his co-star from three MGM musicals of the 1950s, Kathryn Grayson
Toured in stage productions of musicals and comedies including "Camelot", "Man of La Mancha", "Paint Your Wagon", "I Do! I Do!", "Plaza Suite", "Gigi", "Show Boat", "Kismet", "The Most Happy Fella" and "The Fantasticks"
Teamed with Jane Powell on record-breaking national theater tour of "South Pacific"
Reprised screen role of eldest brother Adam in a touring stage version of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers", opposite original screen co-star Jane Powell
Joined the cast of the CBS primetime serial drama, "Dallas", which had premiered in 1978; played Clayton Farlow
Recorded first solo album, "And I Love You So"
Was one of the hosts of the feature compilation documentary, "That's Entertainment III", revisiting the MGM musical from the coming of sound through the late 1950s
Keel was President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1958-1959.
TCM Remembers Howard Keel this Monday, Nov. 15th PLEASE NOTE SCHEDULE CHANGE
Hollywood Reporter news items add Bud Osborne and Lyle Talbot to the cast, but they did not appear in the final film. Modern sources include actors Ray Jones, Ed Cassidy, Ted Mapes and John Hart in the cast.