"Each man has a song and this is my song." (Leonard Cohen)

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Restless Breed (Fox, 1967)

 
Another classic



 

 
 
The Restless Breed (odd title considering the content) is a classic late-1950s B-Western.
 
Racy poster
 
Made on an ultra-low budget and mostly shot on studio sets, it nevertheless has panache and zip. It stars Scott Brady, one of the wild Tierney brothers, as an undercover secret service agent down on the Tex-Mex border to investigate the death of his daddy. Brady was always full of vim. He looked like Marlon Brando, though was rather a better actor.

Like Brando, only a good actor

He faces off against Leo Gordon, one of the best heavies ever. Don Siegel once said that Gordon, who had served time in San Quentin for armed robbery, was "the scariest man I have ever met". Actually, the leader of the badmen is Jim Davis but he only appears at the very end to get shot. (He’s good though). It’s Leo who is Mr. Mayhem for most of the movie.
 
Leo the Great. Good German title too.
 
A young Anne Bancroft plays the Mexican girl who falls for Scott. Ms Bancroft was one of those women who grew more beautiful as she aged but she is pretty damn good here, aged 26. This was her first Western; they were all Bs.
 
Mr. Brady and Ms. Bancroft canoodle
Jay C Flippen is the US marshal and Rhys Williams is the pastor who tries to redeem Scott. So really solid support acting.
There’s also a strange kind of silent chorus in the shape of Scott Marlowe as Allan (coincidence or not, the director’s first name). He just observes - spying or eavesdropping - and we often see the action from his POV.

The Eastmancolor print has a pleasant blue wash to it. The set is pretty basic, like painted scenery, but this is almost good: it makes the drama more like a stage play.

Veteran director Allan Dwan made no fewer than 171 Westerns, 149 of them silents between 1911 and 1913! But he also made the 1939 Wyatt Earp picture Frontier Marshal with Randolph Scott and Cattle Queen of Montana in 1954 with the dreaded Barbara Stanwyck. Aged 72, he directed The Restless Breed, his last oater, with a deft touch.

If you want a classy 1950s B-Western with punch, watch The Restless Breed. You won’t regret it.


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