I wrote a very similar opening line in my review of Republic's BRIMSTONE (1949) a few months ago, and it held true again on this occasion.
It's hard not to like a movie which starts with a lovely orchestration of "Shenandoah" and lists a starring cast on the opening title card consisting of Rod Cameron, Brian Donlevy, Forrest Tucker, Ella Raines, Chill Wills, and Barbara Britton! Add to that list Jim Davis, J. Carrol Naish, Paul Fix, Jack La Rue, and Douglas Kennedy, and you've got yourself quite a cast indeed.
The movie concerns a range war, with Cameron's ranch foreman eventually finding himself battling many of the other cast members, including Donlevy, Tucker, and Davis, not to mention his sweetheart, played by Britton, and her father (Taylor Holmes).
Raines, meanwhile, plays a feisty young woman who rolls her own cigarettes. She gradually finds herself losing respect for her fiance, Tucker, and taking a fresh look at her childhood friend Cameron, who is trying to hold together the ranch she's inherited.
There's so much plot in this 90-minute movie that it probably would have been better off either streamlining the story with fewer characters or, conversely, adding half an hour to give the storyline greater depth.
Just as with BRIMSTONE, another Western of the same length also directed by Joseph Kane, I'll admit there were moments I really wasn't quite sure exactly what was going on, but I wasn't overly concerned, as I simply enjoyed spending time on the range with Cameron and this great cast.
The Mary McCall Jr. screenplay was based on a story by Luke Short, whose works have inspired such excellent Westerns as RAMROD (1947), BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948), CORONER CREEK (1948), and AMBUSH (1950). IMDb quotes screenwriter McCall as saying "From the outset this was as happy a spell of work as occurs but rarely in a screenwriter's life."
The Trucolor cinematography was by Jack Marta, with the better-than-average musical score by Ned Freeman.
Big thanks to John Knight for making it possible for me to see this one. I certainly wish Olive Films or another company would start releasing some of these interesting Republic Pictures Westerns on DVD.
Rod Cameron Westerns previously reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: PANHANDLE (1948), RIVER LADY (1948), BRIMSTONE (1949), STAMPEDE (1949), SHORT GRASS (1950), WAGONS WEST (1952), and FORT OSAGE (1952).