|OpenFlix > Vengeance Valley|
The story is interesting without being original. Walker and his foster brother Lancaster fight it out over Dru and Cattle. Strangely the 'vengeance' of the film's title does not refer to this aspect of the plot, but to a sub-plot in which two cowboys seek vengeance on the man who made their sister pregnant. Still Vengeance Valley makes a more snappy title than Battling Brothers.
This is by no means a classic Western, but it is perfectly competent. It may not linger long in the memory, but fans of the genre will certainly enjoy the ride while it lasts.
The charms of DVD sometimes passeth understanding.Vengeance Valley is an 83-minute B Western directed (barely) by the dullest of MGM hacks, Richard Thorpe, and based on one of the genre's hoariest formulas--the bad natural son (Robert Walker), the good foster son (Burt Lancaster), and the range empire they respectively imperil and rescue. Everyone on board was marking time: Walker, who otherwise spent 1951 playing Bruno Anthony in Hitchcock'sStrangers on a Train, and who would be dead within the year; Lancaster, whose glum performance hints at neither the gusto of his early-'50s swashbucklers nor the fact that he would soon be collecting Oscar nominations; Joanne Dru (playing Walker's recent bride), who only a year earlier was working for John Ford; and screenwriter Irving Ravetch, who would draw a much more auspicious ranch-land assignment a decade later withHud (1963). No, we can't make exalted claims forVengeance Valley--but that's just the point: this is an absolutely typical slice of moviegoing life in 1951, and watching this DVD is as uncanny as a trip in a time machine. The aura is perfected by the true three-strip Technicolor print, not a latterday Eastmancolor approximation of the real thing. Throw in a supporting cast of such sagebrush perennials as John Ireland, Will Wright, Glenn Strange, Jim Hayward, and TV's Wyatt Earp-to-be, Hugh O'Brian, and you've got a quintessential Saturday at the Bijou. Now if only thegreat color films of the period could all look this good....-- Richard T. Jameson
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