Film Review – MAN IN THE SADDLE (1951)

MAN IN THE SADDLE (USA, 1951) ***
      Distributor: Columbia Pictures; Production Company: Columbia Pictures / Scott-Brown Productions; Release Date: 2 December 1951 (USA), 18 July 1952 (UK); Filming Dates: 17 April–15 May 1951; Running Time: 87m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (RCA Sound System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1; BBFC Cert: PG.
      Director: André De Toth; Writer: Kenneth Gamet (based on the novel by Ernest Haycox); Producer: Harry Joe Brown; Associate Producer: Randolph Scott; Director of Photography: Charles Lawton Jr.; Music Composer: George Duning; Film Editor: Charles Nelson; Art Director: George Brooks; Set Decorator: Frank Tuttle; Sound: Frank Goodwin.
      Cast: Randolph Scott (Owen Merritt), Joan Leslie (Laurie Bidwell Isham), Ellen Drew (Nan Melotte), Alexander Knox (Will Isham), Richard Rober (Fay Dutcher), John Russell (Hugh Clagg), Alfonso Bedoya (Cultus Charley), Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams (Bourke Prine), Clem Bevans (Pay Lankershim), Cameron Mitchell (George Vird), Richard Crane (Juke Vird), Frank Sully (Lee Repp).
      Synopsis: An angry rancher resorts to violence when he learns that his wife has fallen in love with another man.
      Comment: Tough Western is well directed by De Toth, notably the energetic action sequences – both gunplay and fist fights. Scott plays a rancher at war with his neighbour Knox, who is marrying Scott’s former flame Leslie. Knox is out to expand his cattle empire and Scott stands in his way leading to tit for tat confrontation. Drew plays another rancher who has a soft spot for Scott. The screenplay lacks depth but De Toth makes the most of the scenario. The finale may feel a little too pat, but otherwise, this is a good first run for De Toth and Scott, who would go on to make five more Westerns together before Scott upped the quality levels even further with Budd Boetticher. This was also the first of the lucrative collaborations between star Scott and producer Harry Joe Brown. Song “Man in the Saddle,” m/l. Harold Lewis, Ralph Murphy (sung by Tennessee Ernie). Aka: THE OUTCAST.

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