Lesley Selander. I liked it a great deal.
O'Brien is very appealing as a Western hero. He plays Ben Anthony, a good-hearted cowboy who runs a successful freight business in an area where ranchers are struggling due to a depressed cattle market.
Ben's childhood friend Harry (Robert "Bob" Lowery) plots with others to drive the ranchers out of business and take over their land. Harry also becomes engaged to Linda (Helen Westcott), though it seems she might be happier with Ben, judging from the sparks which fly when he kisses her while offering congratulations on the upcoming wedding.
I recently saw O'Brien in the Western SILVER CITY (1951) and thought he was even better in COW COUNTRY. This black and white Allied Artists film may have had a lower budget than SILVER CITY, but it's a stronger movie. O'Brien is excellent as a smart, ethical man of action. I wish he'd made even more Westerns than he did; I really like him in this genre.
This 82-minute film has an involved story with a large cast, but the plot moves along quickly and gives its characters a chance to shine as it unfolds. Character actor Don Beddoe is particularly good as a soft-hearted grocer who becomes Ben's partner, with Robert J. Wilke effective as one of the villains.
Castle has ample screen time, with some terrific moments, and she just about steals the movie. My only significant complaint regarding the film is that she should have had a final scene to wrap up her story.
James Millican is moving as the devoted Fritz, an immigrant to the United States who dreams of marrying Melba, and his final scene is extremely satisfying. Millican was a USC grad who had over 180 film credits, but sadly he passed on in 1955, only 45 years of age.
The supporting cast also includes Barton MacLane, Chuck Roberson, Charles Courtney, Robert Barrat, and Raymond Hatton.
The screenplay by Adele Buffinton and Tom Blackburn was based on the novel SHADOW RANGE by Curtis Bishop.
This film was recently shown on Turner Classic Movies as part of a tribute to Edmond O'Brien. To my knowledge it has not had a video or DVD release.
COW COUNTRY is a likable Western which should particularly appeal to fans of Westerns, Edmond O'Brien, or Peggie Castle. I was glad I'd recorded it as it provided a really solid evening's entertainment.