Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Waco (1952) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

WACO (1952) is an interesting Bill Elliott film available from the Warner Archive. It's part of the Archive's eight-film Wild Bill Elliott Western Collection.

The plot trajectory isn't quite what one might expect from an Elliott Western. Elliott plays Matt Boone, who at the movie begins has just earned a position as a stagecoach driver. Unfortunately he is forced to draw a gun in self-defense when he catches someone cheating at cards; when Matt kills the man, a couple of people in Waco are willing to stick up for him, but others threaten a lynching.

Matt flees Waco and falls in with an outlaw gang headed by Curly Ivers (I. Stanford Jolley in a good role); Rand Brooks and Paul Fierro are also among the group. Next thing you know, Matt is robbing banks with the Ivers gang. Bill Elliott playing a bank robber?!

The plot's not done by a long shot, as eventually Matt has the chance to hang up his outlaw guns and serve as sheriff of Waco. Curly pledges to stay clear of the town so that Matt will have a chance at a new life.

WACO has a good script by the prolific Western screenwriter Daniel B. Ullman. He takes Elliott's character places we don't expect, and Elliott's taciturn personality works well as a character grimly moving forward with whatever survival options he has at the moment.

The supporting cast includes many familiar Western faces such as Stanley Andrews, House Peters Jr., Rory Mallinson, and Lane Bradford. The leading lady is Pamela Blake (HIGHWAY 13, SKY LINER). She's feisty but there's a feeling that some of her part was left out of the movie, as there's not much to her role.

This 68-minute film was directed by Lewis D. Collins and filmed in black and white by Ernest Miller.

As with the other films in this set reviewed to date, WACO is quite a nice print. There are no extras.

Previous reviews of films from the Wild Bill Elliot Western Collection: REBEL CITY (1953), KANSAS TERRITORY (1952), and THE FORTY-NINERS (1954).

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


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