Olive Films on DVD and Blu-ray earlier this year. Having read a number of good things about this Republic Western, I'd really been looking forward to it, and it did not disappoint.
Joan Leslie plays the title character, but that near-lynching comes at the end, and I'll leave it to viewers to discover for themselves how the movie acquired its title.
As the movie begins, Sally (Leslie) is a proper young woman whose parents have passed on, so she is on a stage to the rough frontier town of Border City to join her brother (Reed Hadley). Along the way her stagecoach is overturned by Quantrill's Raiders, led by Charles Quantrill (Brian Donlevy) and his wife Kate (Audrey Totter), along with Cole Younger (Jim Davis) and Jesse James (Ben Cooper).
Said brother had once planned to marry Kate, who was kidnapped by Quantrill and has become his wife -- and one mean gal. Kate stirs up trouble, and Sally's brother ends up dead. Sally, who is broke, has no choice but to continue to run her brother's saloon, try to pay off his debts and then hope to sell it.
At least there's a mighty handsome mine manager, Lance (John Lund), to make staying in Border City a little more pleasant.
The bare bones of the plot may not sound that interesting, but the unpredictable lead female characters make the movie; they're played with enthusiasm by a pair of favorite actresses.
WESTWARD THE WOMEN.) Faced with cold, hard reality, Sally dresses up like a saloon gal to run the business, and she doesn't hesitate to brawl with Kate when necessary, even though she's embarrassed afterwards. Best of all, when she hears Kate has it in for her Sally doesn't sit and wait but goes gunning for Kate. A shootout between two ladies sure isn't something you see in your average Western.
The evolution of Sally and Kate's relationship from the point of their shootout is fascinating, with Totter superb in a scene where she recounts to Sally how she ended up as a wild Quantrill. Kate's relationship with her husband is interesting; he's a tough man who could stop her in her tracks, but he pretty much lets her stir up trouble as she pleases, being rather entertained by it, then calmly cleans up whatever mess she's made as a result. As he says, he can't decide if she's exciting or something a little more unpleasant. It's a smaller role but Donlevy is well cast.
The supporting cast includes James Brown, Ellen Corby, Minerva Urecal, Gordon Jones, Nacho Galindo, Frank Ferguson, and Jimmy Hawkins.
JOHNNY ANGEL (1945).
The movie was directed by Allan Dwan and filmed in black and white by Reggie Lanning. It runs 90 minutes.
The Olive Films DVD is a nice crisp print, as is typical for Olive releases.
WOMAN THEY ALMOST LYNCHED is quite different from your average Western, and I found it a lot of fun. Recommended.