Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Imperial Swordsman
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
  Stranger on Horseback This Judge Won't Budge
Year: 1955
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Joel McCrea, Miroslava, Kevin McCarthy, John McIntire, John Carradine, Nancy Gates, Emile Meyer, Robert Cornthwaite, Jaclynne Greene, Walter Baldwin, Emmett Lynn, Roy Roberts, George Keymas
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: In the Old West, the further out into the wilderness you travelled, the less likely you were to find the law of the land, so men known as circuit judges were employed to head out to the most remote of the locations in the United States to enforce that law. All they needed was the book of law, a horse to ride upon, and a gun to enforce their decisions should certain folks not be too keen to stand trial or even be taken in. One such man was Judge Richard Thorne (Joel McCrea), and on one of his journeys he wound up in a small town controlled by the land baron Josiah Bannerman (John McIntire) whose son Tom (Kevin McCarthy) was notorious in the area for shooting his mouth off - and shooting his opponents dead. Thorne was here to make sure that never happened again...

By the nineteen-fifties, director Jacques Tourneur had moved on from his horror movies and film noirs to make Westerns, and this B-movie was one of those, probably the least seen of them but highly rated by those who did catch it. McCrea had been keen to work with him again after enjoying his experience on Stars in My Crown, so happily allowed himself to be recruited for what was in terms of budget something of a step down, this was a cheap production and to an extent looked it. What was in its favour was those involved, since they obviously all had a lot of faith in the project and were set on making its end result the very best they could. While nobody would call it an all-time classic, they had something they could have been justifiably proud of.

Unfortunately for most of its life, this film was in pretty poor shape, with the original negative lost and what remained a fuzzy public domain copy that may even have been in black and white rather than its original colour if you were unlucky with the print you watched. Yet quality will out, and it was such a compelling little oater that a true Western fan would overlook those drawbacks to appreciate its finer points, including a script based on the most prolific writer in the genre, Louis L'Amour, who wrote hundreds of Western tales on the page, though was not as often adapted for the screen despite his huge popularity amongst aficionados. Stranger on Horseback was assuredly one of the best adaptations of his yarns, and made you lament there were not more examples to enjoy.

McCrea of course loved this style of movie, if it had been up to him all he would have made would have been Westerns throughout his career, and he was a perfect match for this as the upstanding, moral hero who the cowed townsfolk begin to side with when they realise he can bring the Bannerman tyranny to an end. His love interest was Josiah's niece, Amy Lee, played by the tragic European actress Miroslava, who the next year would take her own life thanks to her romantic sorrows. Although her accent did not exactly match the role, she was a spirited presence who convincingly switched sides halfway through, though romantically she had little chemistry with the leading man. McIntire and McCarthy were excellent villains, knowing they can ride this out if they play by their own rules, and John Carradine reminded us he was in as many Westerns as he was horror flicks as the loquacious Colonel. Thorne's "won't take no for an answer" attitude to bringing Tom to trial made you ever more eager for that to happen, but there was suspense and action before we found out if he succeeded. Music by Paul Dunlap.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 1929 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Darren Jones
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M


Last Updated: