TOWN TAMER is one of a series of 13 westerns which Paramount producer A.C.LYLES(1918-2013) made between 1964 and 1968.
Of the 13, I have only seen two – Town Tamer and Johnny Reno – but now I hope to catch up with all the others. I looked up some statistics on these films and it makes for interesting reading which I’ll talk about after looking at Town Tamer.
A double dvd box set would be great!
TOWN TAMER has a dramatic start, as Tom Rosser (Dana Andrews) and his wife Carol (Coleen Gray) are targeted by hired killer Lee Ring (Lyle Bettger). Rosser never sees Ring.
The story immediately moves on 2 years when Rosser has been hired by railroad owner James Fell (Barton MacLane) to make the city of Great Plains more peaceful. Fell has also given Rosser a piece of land as a cover for him coming into town.
On the stagecoach into town, Rosser meets Susan Tavenner (Terry Moore) who has come to town to find her husband Guy (DeForest Kelley).
The town is in the iron grip of saloon owner Riley Condor (Bruce Cabot) and his two ‘lawmen’, sheriff Ring (Bettger) and deputy Honsinger (Richard Jaeckel).
The town mayor is Leach (Lon Chaney jr) and the local doctor is Dr. Kent (Richard Arlen), both of whom oppose Condor.
Also in Condor’s pocket is Judge Murcott (Pat O’Brien).
Rosser knows that it was Condor who hired the killer two years earlier. He lets everyone know he intends to kill Condor.
The film is full of action and fast paced. And what a lineup of stars.
In a nice change for Lyle Bettger, his character is not a straight-out gunslinger. He works for Condor but attempts to protect Rosser, showing some regret for his previous actions.
In addition to the above named cast members, there is also Philip Carey, Bob Steele,Jeanne Cagney, Sonny Tufts,Donald Barry. Amazing really.
A.C. Lyles assembled a repertory company for his western series. Lon Chaney Jr appeared in 7 of them;
Richard Arlen was in 8 of them; Don Barry was in 5, De Forest Kelley was in 4.
Dana Andrews, Barry Sullivan, Rory Calhoun, Howard Keel all made more than one of the Lyles films.
A.C. (Andrew Craddock) Lyles sometimes wrote some of the scripts under the name Andrew Craddock.
Lyles joined Paramount in 1937 as an office boy and worked his way up to director of publicity. His 60s westerns were made on a strict budget and schedule. He provided work for so many Hollywood veterans.
I’ve only seen Johnny Reno and Fort Utah, think. I know the films have their champions but I can’t say I was all that impressed by what I have seen. I can admire and respect the intent behind the movies but I feel there was a tired feel to the ones I saw, as though they were trying to hold onto something that had already passed. Having said that, I wouldn’t be averse to seeing more of them made available, if only allow for a fuller appraisal of them.
I love the fact that A.C.Lyles employed so many well known names. I hope the other films aren’t disappointing.
I think that if you’ve liked what you’ve seen so far, then you should be OK. The experienced, veteran casts are/were the biggest draw, I believe.
I know John K. would echo your suggestion, Vienna, of a box set of these Lyles westerns!
Whilst I love seeing the casts of old-timers and what Lyles was trying to do generally, unfortunately the western under the studio system had peaked by this time. Only one way to go when you have reached the peak.
I agree with Colin’s feeling of a tired look that accompanies these films. I haven’t seen “TOWN TAMER” in many years but remember it as one of the better ones.
It’s amazing really that the Lyles westerns were successful for four years.
While the genre was in something of a state of flux during those years, I think it was more of an artistic nature as opposed to a commercial one. Although the old style Hollywood version was in creative decline, the genre itself remained popular through a combination of TV versions, overseas imports, and Hollywood’s own product.
TV series really took over the traditional western themes after the classic film period of the 50s ended.
Yup, although TV western series’ greatest successes were perhaps at their peak during the late 50s. They also tailed off dramatically after about 1963. Luckily there were some very successful ones throughout the 60s (“THE VIRGINIAN” a case in point. It didn’t start until 1962 and ran for a decade).
The Tv westerns were so popular . Wagon Train, Rawhide , Bonanza, and later on The High Chaparral.
Loved ’em all, Vienna!!