Friday, January 13, 2012

Tonight's Movie: Treasure of Ruby Hills (1955)

Tonight's first movie, via Netflix, was TREASURE OF RUBY HILLS, a low-budget Western from Allied Artists, starring Zachary Scott as the enigmatic hero.

TREASURE OF RUBY HILLS is based on a story by Louis L'Amour. The first ten minutes or so of this film are muddled and hard to follow, ultimately establishing that Scott's character, Ross Haney, is an outlaw's son trying to live on the straight and narrow.

The plotline picks up when Ross, wanting to put down roots on a ranch, wanders into the middle of an Arizona range war. He buys up local water rights in an attempt to help the townspeople and put an end to the battles which are driving settlers out of the area. Before it's all over, Ross has fallen in love with Sherry (Carole Matthews), a local rancher, and there's a whole lotta shooting.

There's a really nicely staged shootout in a saloon between Scott and Lee Van Cleef which might, in and of itself, be enough for a Westerns fan to find this 71-minute film worthwhile. It's followed by a larger shootout in a different saloon which is also a good set piece.

Ross and Sherry's romance isn't very well developed, and Matthews was at times filmed in some rather unflattering closeups. One assumes the budget was such that not much time and care was taken with such matters. The black and white cinematography was by John J. Martin.

On the plus side, I always enjoy Scott, who has some good lines, and it's nice to see him as a hero for a change. There's a solid supporting cast including Dick Foran, Lola Albright, and Barton MacLane.

All in all, fans of Scott or Westerns may enjoy checking out this film, but it's not much more than a time-passer.

This movie was directed by Frank McDonald.

TREASURE OF RUBY HILLS has been released on DVD and VHS.

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