City of Bad Men (1953)
I freely admit I tuned into this “B” western because I knew Richard Boone was in it. But the title refers to more than one bad man so how about adding Lloyd Bridges, Leo Gordon, John Doucette and Rodolfo Acosta into the mix. Works for me even if the film is strictly a formula number though the backdrop of the famous James Corbett/Bob Fitzsimmons heavyweight title fight adds a different flavor to the film.
Leading the boys minus Boone into Carson City as the big fight approaches is Dale Robertson. The gang figures to make off with the local banks payroll. They quickly realize Carson is no longer a sleepy little town but is going through a boom with the fighters gearing up for the big match. It’s this backdrop that gives the movie a somewhat fresher look than many other releases of the day. The town has basically turned into a carnival with town barkers and games to be played on the street with the promise of dancing girls behind the curtain for a price.
Dale soon hits upon the idea of robbing the box-office take. In order to do so he’s going to have to keep his gang from starting up any trouble in the street with Richard Boone’s tough hombre’s who are also looking for trouble. Into Robertson’s life comes a past love in the form of beautiful Jeanne Crain. Cue the melodramatic screenplay as the two talk of the past and what could have been. Dare I say there still might be hope if Dale could walk the straight and narrow?
By the time fight night comes around Robertson is sure to be odds with Boone and maybe even his own gang which includes brother Bridges. Lloyd has been playing second fiddle far too long and sees an opening to be the big man and just might make a play with Boone’s backing.
Don’t expect any surprises here in this Harmon Jones directed 80 minute feature released through 20th Century Fox. What you can expect is spotting plenty of “faces.” Along with our bad men you can point to a young James Best, Percy Helton and Frank Ferguson.
For the filming of the big fight we have Jimmy Lennon Sr. in his customary role of art imitating life. He’s the ring announcer as he was in countless features and plenty of real life bouts. His son Jimmy Jr. is also frequently seen in the ring taking over announcing duties. “It’s Showtime!”
Playing Gentleman Jim Corbett is actor James Daheim. Honestly, someone I am not familiar with though he seems to have a lengthy list of credits to his name. For a great look at a classic on boxer Corbett, look no further than 1942’s Gentleman Jim.
Richard Boone of Paladin fame is playing the tried and true character of Johnny Ringo. This name seems to get thrown into many western screenplays and for me the name always represents John Ireland in 57’s Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. As far as Boone is concerned it’s kind of interesting to see him prior to his hit series Have Gun Will Travel. He’s rarely in a leading role and usually a heavy. I prefer him as Paladin and his post TV series roles playing heavies as in Big Jake and Hombre when connecting him to the western.
I found this one on youtube if your so inclined to watch a beauty in Crain, Boone as the heavy, a fun cast of western regulars and a rather dull leading man with Dale. Sorry Dale but I couldn’t resist. Randolph Scott would have brought that something extra that the film needed. Perhaps it’s called star quality.