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  Restless Breed, The Law To The Lawless
Year: 1957
Director: Allan Dwan
Stars: Scott Brady, Anne Bancroft, Jay C. Flippen, Leo Gordon, Jim Davis, Rhys Williams, Scott Marlowe, Myron Healey, Eddy Waller, Billy Miller, Marilyn Winston, Marty Carrizosa, Evelyn Rudie, Gerald Milton, Dennis King Jr, Harry Cheshire, James Flavin
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Mitch (Scott Brady) is not a happy man. It is 1865 and the end of the Civil War has given rise to a number of outlaw gangs who roam the frontier lands, terrorising the law-abiding citizens and gunning down anyone who gets in their way. That includes Mitch's government agent father, who was undercover in one of those lawless towns looking for a method to stop their local leader, Newton (Jim Davis), but was outsmarted by him and his men, leaving him dead. His son, a lawyer in the same line of work, is grimly set on vengeance, no matter what his boss may warn him against, and sets out for the town his father died in, vowing that Newton is going to pay with his own life...

Allan Dwan was a veteran director by the time he had made The Restless Breed, having emerged from the silents to take higher profile work, though he was best known for his Westerns, of which this was one of his last. Perhaps not one of his most widely praised efforts, but fans of the genre would find something to appreciate with this tale of an immoral man sent after an even less moral man to see who can triumph over the other, though it had to be said the days of Dwan helming the bigger budget, bigger star vehicles were waning, and this was noticeably none too well funded, shot on cheap sets and with a B-movie cast, Brady among them, though one actress stood out.

She was Anne Bancroft, playing the half-Indian adopted daughter of the sole decent man around, or so it seems, the Reverend Simmons (Rhys Williams), who has a brood of children collected about him he protectively looks after against the harsh realities of the land they have been born in. Bancroft played Angelita, who wants to be a "bar dancer" except the Reverend won't allow it, wishing her to be brought up as a decent young lady but in the style of the day, her Mexican blood means she is always in danger of giving in to her fiery temperament and becoming the object of men's inflamed lusts. Sadly, this includes Mitch, who wastes no time in making his interest in the girl apparent, even grabbing her.

A hero who basically assaults the young woman he desires, even if he doesn't go as far as rape, is a tricky one to sympathise with despite the fact he has lost his parent in murderous circumstances, and Brady was never one for nuance, more a big slab of masculinity, unreconstructed as he was (and often taking his shirt of as if to say, what do you think of that, ladies?!). Nevertheless, he was well-cast here as a man you would humour but not want to get on the wrong side of, which is precisely what the Newton gang have done, including as they do towering bully boy Leo Gordon in a typical role, and Scott Marlowe as what amounts to a Peeping Tom who insidiously spies on the other characters and reports back obsequiously to his leader - it was he who found out about the father's identity.

This was not above cliché, as the impression was of a work that was lapsing into formula with every turn, so you knew you had the romance, the shootouts, the hero versus the villain in unshaded terms, but there was at least more ambiguity in some scenes than there was in others. Mitch even takes to the bottle in one sequence when it appears his grief is sabotaging his powers of reason, dulling the pain that has been seeking a channel in alternative ways, mostly by leading Angelita astray. She seems flattered by the attention, if not the manner Mitch is going about it, and much of the tension is not between him and Newton, but between him and Angelita, as if he is a corrupting influence rather than the Roy Rogers white-hatted cowboy crusader he might have been in previous years, even recently. If there was no great shock as to how this turned out, a gunfight in the saloon, then there was an unease with its hero that almost matched the unease with its villain. Music by Edward L Alperson Jr (son of the producer).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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