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  Terror in a Texas Town Weird Weird West
Year: 1958
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Stars: Sterling Hayden, Ned Young, Sebastian Cabot, Carol Kelly, Gene Martin, Victor Millan
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: When whaler George Hansen (Sterling Hayden) arrives in town, he discovers that his father has been shot dead for his land - and that would-be tycoon McNeil (Sebastian Cabot) is behind the killing.

Terror in a Texas Town was B-movie expert Joseph H. Lewis' last film before he moved into TV. As usual, he uses his low budget to his advantage, creating one of the strangest westerns of the era. There's something off-kilter about the whole film; it's low key, but simmering with fear which bursts into occasional violence. Drums are frequently heard pounding ominously on the soundtrack.

The main characters are unconventional: McNeil comes across as a second-rate Sidney Greenstreet, urbane but greedy and commanding a clutch of bullying henchmen. Chief among these is Johnny Crale (Ned Young) who dresses all in black and has a steel hand, but finds his confidence is slipping as his gunfighting ways become obsolete.

Hayden is our hero - steadfast, honest and persistent: when he gets beaten up and thrown onto the first train out of town, he gets out at the next stop and walks all the way back! Not to mention his weird, distracting, Swedish accent. At least it's supposed to be Swedish, he may remind you of the chef from The Muppet Show.

The film is on the side of the immigrants, the minorities and the ordinary people just trying to get by. McNeil is forcing them off their land so he can get their oil - it's ruthless big business that is becoming the real villain in this country. But the streets are empty and the only townsfolk we see are those who turn out for the bizarre harpoon-versus-pistol gunfight at the end. It's an unusual, idiosyncratic film, and it was nice way for Lewis to end his movie career.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Joseph H. Lewis  (1907 - 2000)

Dependable American B-movie director who turned his hand to westerns (Terror in a Texas Town) and horrors (Invisible Ghost) but was especially good at thrillers: My Name is Julia Ross, So Dark the Night, The Big Combo among them. His most celebrated film is the "Bonnie and Clyde"-inspired Gun Crazy. He left the movies to become a television director in the 1950s.

 
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