Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Man From God's Country (1958)

MAN FROM GOD'S COUNTRY is a so-so George Montgomery Western which rebounds from a listless first half to a more interesting conclusion.

Montgomery plays Dan Beattie, who resigns as sheriff of a small Western town when he's harrassed by some of the townspeople for shooting a man in self-defense.

Dan decides to head to the town of Sundown and look up his Army pal Curt Warren (House Peters Jr.). In Sundown Dan is mistaken for a railroad agent by Beau Santee (Frank Wilcox) and his hired gun (James Griffith); Santee doesn't want the railroad to come to Sundown and wants to get Dan out of the way.

Curt works for Beau and seems to have lost his moral compass, to the disappointment of his son (Kim Charney, SUDDENLY) and girlfriend (Susan Cummings). It's going to be up to Dan to deal with the crooks and set his friend back on the right path.

The movie is only 72 minutes long but it takes quite a while to set up the story. It doesn't help that the first part of the story, with Dan not supported in his job as sheriff, doesn't have a great deal to do with the rest of the film, other than to explain his friendship with Col. Miller (Gregg Barton) and his initial reluctance to become involved in the problems he finds in Sundown.

The last half hour is more interesting, with plenty of action and a good shootout to conclude the movie.

The Warner Archive DVD is a beautiful widescreen print. Much of the movie was filmed on location in Southern California. However, one of the film's problems is the intercutting of location shots of Montgomery with shots of James Griffith shooting at him from a soundstage set; the contrast between location and soundstage in the same sequence is disconcerting, but apparently the film didn't have enough of a budget for the filmmakers to be concerned about the issue.

MAN FROM GOD'S COUNTRY was directed by Paul Landres, filmed by Harry Neumann, and written by George Waggner. Waggner, who liked to bill himself as george waGGner, wrote for a number of Warner Bros. Westerns in the same time frame, including MAVERICK.

Randy Stuart costars as a saloon gal sweet on Dan. Most of her screen career was in the late '40s and '50s, including guest roles on Warner Bros. Westerns. In the '60s she played Harry Morgan's wife in a couple episodes of DRAGNET.

The supporting players include Phillip Terry, Byron Foulger, and Frank Sully.

Previous reviews of George Montgomery Westerns: THE TEXAS RANGERS (1951), CRIPPLE CREEK (1952), GUN BELT (1953), THE LONE GUN (1954), MASTERSON OF KANSAS (1954), BATTLE OF ROGUE RIVER (1954), ROBBERS' ROOST (1955), CANYON RIVER (1956), GUN DUEL IN DURANGO (1957), TOUGHEST GUN IN TOMBSTONE (1958), and BADMAN'S COUNTRY (1958).


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