LINDA DARNELL is top billed in DAKOTA INCIDENT (Republic), but DALE ROBERTSON is the star.
The film opens with three riders on the range after robbing a bank. Two of them,SKIP HOMEIER and JOHN DOUCETTE decide a two- way split is better than three,and Dale Robertson is shot down and his horse killed.
Dale survives and comes after them. He walks forty miles to the nearest town where a disparate group of people await the stage to Laramie.
There’s Linda Darnell and REGIS TOOMEY, a singer and her accompanist; WARD BOND, a senator from Washington preaching that the white man and the Indian must come together; WHIT BISSELL is an Easterner who thinks he has struck gold; and there’s the mysterious JOHN LUND (who doesn’t get any dialogue for the first twenty minutes of the film.)
So that’s the set-up. Before the stage takes off,Robertson deals with his two ‘partners’,one of whom (Homeier) turns out to be his brother.)
We learn Lund was the teller at the bank Robertson robbed and that Lund was blamed for the robbery and now wants to bring Robertson back to prove his innocence.
Lots happen as they take off for Laramie – the Indians are on the war path and not everybody is going to survive.
A good plot with touches of STAGECOACH and ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO.
Dale Robertson is one of these actors, like BEN JOHNSON, who looks completely natural in a western setting. My only problem is his persona is so stoic – even when his brother betrays him and is then killed,there’s little reaction.
We get fire and brimstone from Ward Bond, but I would have liked someone like STEPHEN MCNALLY in the mix to provide a contrast – and, of course,more conflict.
It’s a tense drama, but sometimes, some of the dialogue brings the story to a dead halt. It’s in bright Trucolor, but I think black and white would have added to the tension.
At 90 minutes, I’d have trimmed it by 15 or 20 minutes. As much as I like Linda Darnell, her character is subsidiary and wouldn’t have been missed ( though she did look spectacular in the flaming red dress she wears throughout!)