STAGE TO THUNDER ROCK 1964

M

I guess the A.C. Lyles series of westerns in the 1960s are a bit of a hit and miss. This one is definitely on the miss  side. Far too talky and not enough action. But I like a beginning when you are in the middle of a drama, and then the background unfolds.

The film opens with Sheriff Horne ( Barry Sullivan) riding up to the Sawyer ranch to pick up two brothers who are bank robbers. One of them draws a gun on Horne who is forced to kill him. He takes the other brother Reese (Ralph Taeger) (and the stolen $50,000) into custody. Reese threatens Horne that his father Ross Sawyer (Keenan Wynn), who isn’t at the ranch,  will gun Horne down when he hears about what’s happened.

Back in town, the bank manager Acres (Robert Strauss) and the town mayor Dollar (Allan Jones) have brought hired gunslinger Sam Swope (Scott Brady) into town as insurance against Horne not getting the Sawyers or the money. The reason for their lack of faith in the Sheriff is that Horne was brought up by Ross Sawyer.

Swope has brought his wife (Wanda Hendrix) and young daughter to town with him. His daughter is blind, and all Swope wants to do is collect the reward for the brothers and pay for treatment for her. But the Mayor and the bank manager want him to get rid of Horne too.

So, that’s the set up. We also see Leah Parker (Marilyn Maxwell) in town. She’s down on her luck and planning to get the stage to her folks’ home, a way station out of town. She hasn’t seen them for years.  They think she’s a school teacher.

Swope takes the same stage. John Agar drives the stage coach  and is friendly with Leah’s sister Julie (Laurel Goodwin).

M

Horne arrives at the way station with his prisoner  and Swope makes it clear what his intentions are.

 

M

Leah and Horne have history together. She tends his wound.

 

M

Lon Chaney is Parker, Leah’s father. (Anne Seymour is his long suffering wife) . Parker has given up on life, the way station is about to close and unless they raise some money, the family will have to leave. A nice touch is to have an Indian family set up a tepee nearby, waiting for the Parkers to leave so they can take over the house.

A good third of the film stays inside the way station, with everybody talking but not saying much!  Eventually Sawyer shows up and there is a showdown.

I would have preferred more scenes in town.

A cast jam packed with star names, but  with little screen time.

Allan Jones (whom I didn’t recognise), Robert Strauss and Wanda Hendrix had only one scene, Keenan Wynn had little more to do. Anne Seymour impressed as the woman striving to keep her family together. And I liked Ralph Taeger (whom I remember from the TV series Hondo) as the no-good brother trying desperately to get away. Marilyn Maxwell came over well too.

Sullivan and Scott are convincing as the relentless sheriff and the gun for hire who only wants to save his daughter.

 

Publicity shots for the film.

 

M

 

 

M

 

 

M

6 responses »

  1. Generally speaking, I can watch Sullivan in pretty much anything, and like it. This film though, which I’ve never seen, appears not only packed with names but also with plot. Just going by your synopsis it seems like there was enough going on there for a handful of movies. And you know,, I don’t necessarily mind talky films, but the talk has to go somewhere, have a purpose beyond padding out the running time.

  2. He’s always good, isn’t he.
    The Lyles productions all seem to come in around 90 minutes. I felt this one could have been a good 20 minutes shorter and still tell the tale.

  3. It’s a shame that out of the 13 (?) Lyles films
    only one JOHNNY RENO has made it to DVD and that one
    is possibly the weakest of the lot.
    I am interested to know if you were able to watch this film in
    widescreen as most of the Lyles films can only be seen today as 4×3.
    If I recall TOWN TAMER was one of the best and certainly had the
    most star-packed cast.
    Sullivan also appeared in the last of the Lyles Westerns BUCKSKIN.

  4. I’m a day late and a dollar short here 🙂
    Sorry I overlooked the fact that you have already covered
    TOWN TAMER….what a lovely gallery of posters on that thread
    I might add.
    As you suggested a series of double bills would be fantastic.
    Thanks for spreading the word on these much sought after films.
    A.C.Lyles also produced his friend James Cagney’s only stint as
    director SHORT CUT TO HELL a great little Noir and a remake of
    THIS GUN FOR HIRE. Cagney also provided the narration for
    ARIZONA BUSHWHACKERS.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s