Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Rimfire (1949)

James Millican stars in RIMFIRE (1949), a "B" Western from Robert L. Lippert Productions.

It's a great pleasure to see Millican, a longtime favorite of this blog, in a lead role, though this is admittedly something of an oddball Western.

Millican plays Captain Tom Harvey, who arrives in a dusty New Mexico town looking for stolen shipments of gold. Harvey, undercover as an itinerant cowpoke, confides his real mission to the sheriff (Victor Kilian) and takes a job as deputy.

Meanwhile the Abilene Kid (Reed Hadley), a suave gambler, is framed for cheating in a card game and convicted in a kangaroo court presided over by Judge Gardner (George Cleveland). In a rather shocking development, the Abilene Kid is immediately hung.

Shortly thereafter, various townspeople are murdered one by one, with a playing card left with each body.

Some nice atmospheric tension builds as the strange series of murders continues, though ultimately the plot sputters out a bit with an unremarkable ending, considering what's gone before.

Millican and Hadley are both enjoyable to watch, the only drawback being Hadley's unexpectedly early disappearance from the film.

There are also a pair of lovely ladies who liven up their scenes, with "B" stalwart Mary Beth Hughes as the sheriff's niece who attracts the Captain's attention, and Margia Dean as the saloon gal who's interested in the Abilene Kid.

Familiar faces among the townspeople include Fuzzy Knight, I. Stanford Jolley, Jason Robards (Sr.), Glenn Strange, and Chris-Pin Martin.

"B" movie specialist B. Reeves Eason directed; this was his last feature film. Eason passed on in 1956.

The story and screenplay of this 63-minute film was a collaboration between Frank Wisbar, Arthur St. Claire, and Ron Ormond. Ernest Miller shot the film in black and white.

This movie is available in a "Western Film Noir Vol. 1" double feature DVD set from VCI Entertainment. It's paired with LITTLE BIG HORN (1951) starring Lloyd Bridges, Marie Windsor, John Ireland, Reed Hadley, Jim Davis, and Hugh O'Brian. With that cast, LITTLE BIG HORN sounds like it's worth checking out!

The RIMFIRE DVD picture is adequate, a little soft but no major defects such as skips or large scratches. The soundtrack is weak in some spots, causing me to wish the disc had captions at a couple points; for the most part, however, it's fine.

The late Ron Scheer wrote about RIMFIRE at his blog Buddies in the Saddle. Ron died in 2015, and I sure miss his posts.

There's a little more on this film by Dan Stumpf at the always-enjoyable Mystery File.

While RIMFIRE isn't a notably good Western, it does have some interesting angles and a nice cast, so Western fans may find it's worth the hour or so to give it a look.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Interesting angles and James Millican - works for me.

5:54 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

:) It's always great to see Millican, isn't it?

Best wishes,

8:50 AM  
Blogger Walter S. said...

Laura, a good and fair write-up of RIMFIRE. I liked that James Millican actually got to be the lead in a movie. What a distinctive voice he had. Millican was a fine character actor and like many others(some in this movie), made the movie better by being in the cast. He was really good in his last movie RED SUNDOWN(1956) with Rory Calhoun. Also, in DAWN AT SOCORRO(1954) with Calhoun. Laura, I know that you liked these movies.

I could go on and on about these low budget programmers like RIMFIRE, because they can be better than they have to be. I think RIMFIRE is well paced and has a lot packed into 63 minutes. The once famous, or infamous director B. Reeves "Brezzy" Eason kept the action going in this entertaining movie. Where else can you find James Millican in the lead and Glenn Strange actually gets to have his arm wrapped around the beautiful shoulder of dance hall gal Margia Dean(who is still with us at age 97).

Laura thanks for the review.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Walter! Always wonderful to hear from you. You're so right about Millican's voice -- and what I find amusing too is that Louis Jean Heydt, who looks amazingly like Millican, has a similarly distinctive voice.

Glad you mentioned RED SUNDOWN and DAWN AT SOCORRO as those are two marvelous films I'd love more people to discover and enjoy.

I did not realize Margia Dean is still with us! I've enjoyed her in any number of films, mostly small roles in enjoyable B movies like WESTERN PACIFIC AGENT (1950) and FBI GIRL (1951).

There's a great deal to enjoy in these kinds of programmers! Love your comment on some of the fun stuff to be found in RIMFIRE.

Best wishes,

9:21 AM  

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