Tag Archives: George Montgomery

Badman’s Country

Nicholas Chennault ~ December 5, 2014

Badman’s Country—George Montgomery, Buster Crabbe, Karin Booth, Neville Brand, Malcolm Atterbury, Gregory Walcott (1958; Dir: Fred F. Sears)


Ten years before Paul Newman and Robert Redford made Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid two of the west’s most charming outlaws, there was this reaction to the popularity of television westerns, throwing almost all the lawman and outlaw names they could think of into one not-terribly-coherent western hash.  Butch Cassidy (Neville Brand) is a well-organized but thoroughly bad Butch Cassidy; his Wild Bunch gang includes the Sundance Kid and Kid Curry, but also Black Jack Ketchum and is here operating near Abilene, Kansas.  The principal good guy is Pat Garrett (George Montgomery, wearing his gun quite low and a his characteristic hat with a low crown and broad brim), with backup from Wyatt Earp (Buster Crabbe), Bat Masterson (Gregory Walcott) and a strange, aging Buffalo Bill Cody (Malcolm Atterbury).  Loma Pardee (Karin Booth), the local doctor’s daughter, is Garrett’s romantic interest.

Apparently five members of the Wild Bunch are looking for Garrett, who’s trying to get out of the lawman business.  He kills two of them and puts the other three in jail and wires for help from Earp and Masterson.  In the end, just a few of the good guys overcome and capture about 40 outlaws, including Butch.


Sheriff Pat Garrett (George Montgomery) rides.

Geographically and timewise, this is one of the most mixed up westerns ever made; the only way it could have been worse is to throw in Davy Crockett (from The Alamo) and Hawkeye (from Last of the Mohicans).  In reality by the time Cassidy had gathered his now-famous Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, Garrett was long retired, Buffalo Bill was touring in his Wild West show, Earp was refereeing prize fights and prospecting for gold in Alaska, and Masterson was a sportswriter for a newspaper in New York City. The low, burning hay bales used at the end to block off the street wouldn’t have stopped any horseback rider who wanted to get over them.  In black and white, at only 68 minutes.


Butch Cassidy (Neville Brand) surrenders.

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Masterson of Kansas

Nicholas Chennault ~ July 16, 2014

Masterson of Kansas—George Montgomery, Nancy Gates, Bruce Cowling, James Griffith, William Henry, Jay Silverheels, John Maxwell (1954; Dir: William Castle)


Badly written and clunkily directed, this B-movie western takes such historical figures as Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday and does completely fictional things.  The best acting here is done by James Griffith as Doc Holliday, but that’s always a juicy role.  As in Frontier Marshal and My Darling Clementine, Doc Holliday is depicted as a medical doctor (patching up a wounded Virgil Earp), instead of the dentist he was.  George Montgomery as the titlular Bat Masterson is so stiff you can see why he eventually gave up acting for furniture design.  Bruce Cowling (the cuckolded Irish trooper in Ambush) is a curiously ineffective Wyatt Earp.  Everybody in this movie wears two guns in 1950s-style rigs. The cast now seems lacking in star power.

A supposed enmity between Bat Masterson, the sheriff of Dodge City, and Doc Holliday is the background for a plot to lynch Indian sympathizer Amos Merrick (John Maxwell) so that white cattlemen can get Indian land.  Nancy Gates (the rescued wife in Comanche Station) plays Merrick’s daughter Amy, the romantic interest for Masterson, but she seems largely extraneous.  She persuades Doc, despite his feud with Masterson, to help in the search for Clay Bennett, who testified that he saw the murder.  Jay Silverheels shows up as Yellow Hawk, chief of the Comanches (or Kiowas or southern Cheyennes).  William Henry is Charlie Fry, the nefarious cattleman behind the lynching and all the bad goings-on.


In the end, it’s Masterson, Wyatt and Doc striding down the main street of Hays City, shooting it out with a horde of gunmen.  None of it makes a great deal of sense, and there’s a lot of improbable shooting.  Director William Castle was better known for low-budget horror pictures, but he made his share of westerns as well, none of which are particularly notable.  In color, at just 73 minutes.

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Robber’s Roost

Nicholas Chennault ~ April 25, 2014

Robber’s Roost—George Montgomery, Richard Boone, Peter Graves, Sylvia Findley, William Hopper, Bruce Bennett (1955; Dir:  Sidney Salkow)


This a revenge/manhunt western, mixed with a range war.  And all this in a B movie starring good-looking but unexciting George Montgomery in his flat-crowned 1950s cowboy hats.

The mysterious Tex (aka Jim Wall, played by George Montgomery) throws his lot in with a gang of rustlers led by Hank Hayes (Richard Boone).  Boone and his men are on their way to work for crippled cattleman Bull Herrick (Bruce Bennett), figuring to steal his cattle. 

When they arrive, they find that Herrick has also hired a rival gang of rustlers led by Heesman (Peter Graves), figuring that the two bunches of thieves will keep each other honest.  Herrick’s sister Helen (Sylvia Findley) has also arrived from the East, hoping to persuade her brother to return east with her for an operation that will restore his ability to walk and ride.  Also in the mix is neighboring rancher Robert Bell (William Hopper), who has asked Helen to marry him once before and still hopes to persuade her to say yes. 


A good guy and two bad guys:  Montgomery, Graves and Boone.  But which is which?

Tex, who is thought not to be very interested in women, becomes Helen’s riding companion, delegated by Hayes to keep her from seeing things he doesn’t want her to be aware of.  Initially, the rivalry between gangs has the desired effect, but eventually they start cooperating to steal the entire herd.  At the climax, Hayes makes off with the herd and Helen, with Tex trying to keep her safe. 

It turns out Hayes had robbed Tex’s ranch and raped and killed his wife, and Tex has been tracking him down not only for revenge but also to exonerate himself from murder charges.  After a four-way shootout in the mountains (Hayes’ gang vs. Heesman’s gang vs. a posse led by the sheriff and Bell, while Tex and Helen are trying to escape and Hayes is trying to catch them).  Luckily, Hayes doesn’t die before telling the sheriff about Tex’s innocence, and Tex and Helen ride off together.

RobbersRoostMontFindlay Tex and Helen try to hold out.

George Montgomery’s Tex is remarkably taciturn, and he wears a quintessentially 1950s hat (short, flat crown and wide brim) as he usually did.  Richard Boone’s Hayes is almost continually blinded by lust; this isn’t his best performance as a screen villain.  The dying confession that absolved a wrongly-accused good guy became kind of a cliché in 1950s westerns, and it was often not terribly believable.  There are weaknesses in the writing here, even if the star doesn’t talk much.  In color, filmed in Durango, Mexico, from a story by Zane Grey.  

Historical note:  There were a number of places in the west referred to as Robber’s Roost.  They tended to be either where stages or mining coaches were often robbed (in Montana’s gold country near Bannack and Virginia City, or in southern Idaho’s Portneuf area, for example) or where outlaws sought refuge, as with the remote spot on the Outlaw Trail in the red-rock deserts of southern Utah where Butch Cassidy’s gang and others hid out.  None of them had much to do with rustlers.

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