Cow Country (1953)
This black and white oater comes to us from Allied Artists and director Lesley Selander with Edmond O’Brien taking the lead role in this western story of the cattle industry and it’s effects on local ranchers versus a scrupulous banker and his henchman. O’Brien is the go to cowboy mixing romance with Helen Westcott to fisticuffs with perennial bad guy Robert J. Wilke. Filling out the cast we have Peggie Castle, Robert Lowery, James Millican and Warner Brothers graduate Barton MacLane.
Our hero Mr. O’Brien is trying to keep the ranchers from going bankrupt and stay the course for better economic times. Putting the squeeze on local ranchers is the always shady Barton MacLane as the banker who employs those he needs to ensure things go his way when it comes to acquiring land and cattle. Robert Lowery is also present as a wealthy rancher who just might be playing both sides against the middle and misleading our 2 female stars at the same time. As is usually the case, we know where things are headed, it’s just a matter of how much fun the journey will allow us as we get to the inevitable fade out.
Our director Lesley Selander was well accustomed to the second half of double bill “B” features having directed numerous westerns ranging from War Paint and Shotgun to his final feature Arizona Bushwackers in 1968. Edmond O’Brien did his fare share of western including Peckinpah’s classic The Wild Bunch but is probably best known for his Noir features by todays viewers. Robert J. Wilke is one of those faces most people who watch these older films will recognize but have no idea of their names. For me he will always be the guy who tried to outdraw James Coburn’s knifeman in The Magnificent 7. I shouldn’t have to tell you who won that stand off. Barton MacLane was one of those great contract players for Warner Brothers through the Cagney and Bogart years and is easily recognizable to film buffs while Robert Lowery actually donned the cape of Batman in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin. Peggie Castle who delivers a rather violent whipping for 1950’s cinema against one of our villains was another actress who had her fare share of “B” film and television credits to her name. Our main love interest of this one is Helen Westcott who some may know from her role in the classic Gregory Peck western The Gunfighter among other titles.
As for this film, it falls under the category, “anything with Edmond O’Brien is worth checking into”.