THE STRANGER RETURNS, aka A Man, A Horse, A Gun, has a strange looking hero for it’s lead. At first glance, one can’t help but wonder at him. He’s riding a big black horse, which he calls Pussy, carries a pink parasol with white lace, though it is a bit tattered. And as the poster implies, he can’t roll a cigarette, a fact that emphasize several times: a sloppily rolled cylinder, a couple of puffs, then throws it down in disgust.
Tony Powers is The Stranger(no name is ever mentioned), and he finds a dead man in a water trough when he investigates a gun shot. He’s pulling him out when a pistol falls from the body’s jacket. At that moment, the Stranger is accosted by three men who force him to dig a grave.
“Always happy to accommodate a man,” is his laconic reply. When ordered to dig a second grave, he measures off one, getting asked isn’t that a little wide? They should have listened when he answers, “No, it’s not.”
After disposing of them, he searches the first dead man and finds a postal inspector’s I.D., taking that and heads off.
He gets involved in a stage robbery. An unusual stage at that. One made of gold and covered with a thin veneer of wood to simulate a regular stage. It belongs to a banker fleeing his failed bank with his wife ahead of a pursuing army patrol. Pulled by six white horses and with a contingent of hired thugs, the dead postal inspector had let them know and they were to pay him for the information.
There’s an identical coach made, it keeps getting switched, double-dealing keeps going on. The Stranger is aided by an old Preacher(Marco Guglielmi), who carries around a big box loaded wit fireworks and a bandolier of buckshot shells for the strangest looking shotgun I’ve ever seen. Four barrels that revolve like a cylinder, though they must be turned by hand.
The showdown between the pair and the outlaw band led by a man named En Plein(Dan Vardis) is quite well done with a lot of organ music backgrounding it> Music by Stelvio Cipriani and directed by Luigi Vanzi, the script was based on a story by star Tony Anthony.
Quite liked this one.
Pono Hawkins lived life like he wanted. A native Hawaiian, he surfed, wrote articles in surfing magazines, taught a group of foster kids about surfing, and spent time with Mojo, his dachshund, who’d liked to surf, was as good as Pono, and had his own board.
Then one day, he finds the body of a young woman floating in the surf near shore. The cops at first said accidental drowning, then said the water in her lungs was fresh water, that it was murder, then it it suddenly became sea water again, and she’d been floating for six hours.
That’s when it occurred to Pono that why hadn’t the sharks got her if she’d been in the ocean for six hours?
When he gets involved in the the investigation, Pono suddenly finds himself the chief suspect for her murder and more that keep popping up. With the cops looking for him(he has a history with them: in prison for murdering civilians in Afghanistan(a whitewash he eventually escaped), then for drug-dealing(taking the rap for a special forces friend who’d lost his legs In Afghanistan saving his life(, he gets out too quick for one cop that keeps an eye on him.
A man mostly alone, Pono picks his way through a minefield of dirty politics out to sink the island paradise simply to line their pockets, he learns he has more friends than one would imagine, from cops to vets to criminals on the island, all with more morals than most of the politicians.
Quite enjoyed this one.
What makes it difficult is his superiors don’t believe his information or just don’t care. To keep them from stopping him, he quits, turning in his badge, and heads out to meet up with a friend on the force who’s meeting him at the station with his valise and ticket.
The tall target of the title is the new President-elect who’s headed for his inauguration in D.C. with a stopover in Baltimore for a speech beforehand.
The time is 1861 and it’s Abraham Lincoln’s assassination he wants to stop. He finds his friend murdered and the film is him looking for a killer on a train.
Will Geer plays a train conductor(this was before he was blacklisted for ten years for refusing to co-operate with HUAC), a very young Ruby Dee as Rachel, a slave maid, Marshal Thompson as a southern killer. and Adolphe Menjou as a militia colonel aboard the train.
Oh, one final note. This film was 1951. In a bit of a coincidence, the man trying to stop the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is named John Kennedy.
For more overlooked movies, drop in on Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.
2: Ironhorse – Robert Knott – continuation of Robert B. Parker’s western series with Cole and Hitch. I liked the Parker books, but then I like westerns.
3: Sixkiller, U. S. Marshal: Blood For Blood – William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone the latest in the Walmart only for a year western series. I have to find my copies on the secondary markets with a less than pristine copy and more expensive at the same time. Don’t know why I continue to pick this, and other series, up. They are good though.
4: Charming – Elliott James: this sounded interesting when I read a review, so I latched onto a copy.
and the ebooks:
5: Trouble Man – Ed Gorman: an old western offered by James Reasoner’s new Rough Edges Press.
6: The Ravine – William Meikle: a weird western from a favorite author.
7: The Burglar Who Counted Spoons(review copy) Lawrence Block
8: The Remortal(review copy) – Ramsey Isler: a young street kid is offered immortality. All he has to do is kill his benefactor. Liked this one.
9: Stone Soldiers # 1: Mythical(review copy) – C. E. Martin: a military unit that fights monsters.
10: Stone Soldiers # 6: Armageddon Z(review copy) – C. E. Martin: latest in the military/monster series.
11: Bookscout – John Dunning: a short piece by Mr. Dunning. I always though his writing style great and he wrote a lot about books. He’s gotten another short work if I like this one.
12: Time Fall(review copy) – Timothy Ashby: a thriller I was asked to give a chance.
13: Legend of The Dawn western trilogy – J. R. Wright: all three novels in one ebook: BEFORE SUNDOWN, AFTER THE DAWN, and LEGEND OF THE FALL.
How would you like to be immortal? Basically, that was the offer given to teenage street kid Telly when he was rescued by a strange man named Van while being pursued by a drug dealer he’d ripped off for a few bucks.
There are only four immortals in the world. No one knows exactly, but there are legends. In the ancient past, some of the Gods wanted to offer immortality to mortals. As punishment, they were condemned to live among them.
There were a few rules. You can tell no one about it. You can’t harm another immortal. After fifty years as an immortal, one can try to move back to Godhood.
To do that, one must pick a successor and begin the training, after first exchanging blood. That sets off changes in the soon-to-be immortal. They don’t need to sleep. Or eat. And therefor no bodily functions. Drugs and alcohol don’t affect them.
When it’s time for the Ascension Rite, the old immortal is weakened and the successor is on the cusp, He must kill the master with the Amaranth Dagger, two thrusts into the heart, the only way an immortal can die.
Telly begins his training and meets the other three immortals. They don’t like Van and have plans of their own. You see, Van is different from the others. They all have aristocratic backgrounds, the only one born in this century traces his family line back to Julius Caesar, one of them. Van was merely a slave in his pre-immortal days.
I liked this book. Author Ramsey Isler has given us a metaphor of religion disguised as an adventure novel that is quite satisfying.
Would recommend this one. Can be found HERE.
Everyone wanted Dan Carver(Manuel Guitian). The vultures were gathering, both the “legal” and criminal. You see, Carver was about to get out of prison after twenty years. He’d been a gold shipper in his younger days and had apparently diverted a shipment of forty bags to a hiding place he wouldn’t reveal. He hadn’t spoken of it in all that time.
The legal vultures were the prison warden and Carver’s old partner, now apparently the mayor of the small town where the prison was located.
The criminals were a motley bunch: Preacher(Indio Gonzales), Apache Joe(Juan M. Solana), Travers(Luis Indoni), Jed Spotless(Ricardo Moyan), and the smartest of the bunch, Trash Benson(Spaghetti vet Anthony Steffen), our erstwhile hero.
Carver’ cell mate, Paco(Daniel Martin) is planning to break out and knows nothing of Carver’s history, though Carver believes different, thinking him placed there to worm the location of the gold from him.
Just as he’s breaking out, via a rope made of bed sheets, another such falls beside him, Trash Benson coming into the prison to get Carver out. Paco had left him tied up in the cell with the guard he’d tricked into coming in. They go back to get him and escape.
This sets off a chase with the gang of outlaws pursuing them, as well as the prison warden and a gang of guards, all the while with an unwilling Carver. They keep double-crossing each other, such that they are soon afoot, and the old man reluctantly agrees to split the gold with them. Albeit with a few dividends. He has to be carried, riding Paco piggyback most of the time.
Making progress until they come upon a wagon load of women, Molly’s Women of Ballet said the painted wagon, but the way they were dressed tells us their real profession. Carver is surprised to see Molly, who with a bit of prodding, remembers him and that he was a regular customer. Which gave the old man an idea. “Nothing like a woman to revitalize a man!”
The strain is too much and he has a heart attack. Benson gets him to write down the location of the gold, then tells Paco to memorize it, then burns it so no one else can get it. Unfortunately Paco can’t read and neither can Benson.
All they know is there’s something about a statue.
Then the run into the outlaw band of Hombre de Rojas(another spaghetti vet, Fernando Sancho), who’s somehow gotten word of a statue and is threatening the villagers who refuse to tell him where it’s hidden.
Benson and Paco have to outwit the bandits, the gang following them, and find the gold.
Not a bad film, though it came as the spaghetti western genre was starting to fade a bit. The writing credits had several hands listed, not always a good sign: Juan Bosch(who also directed) and Fabio Piccioni, screenplay, and Bosch, Picccioni, and Renato Izzo story.
Owen Daybright had been a a part of Acorn, the Strobie ranch for fifteen years, since he was eleven. Old Arch had plucked him, an orphan, from the railroad crew for one reason. He wanted a companion for his son, Lee, a wild, short tempered boy. He hoped Owen would be a calming influence.
No such luck. The wo hated each other and once Owen nearly killed Lee in a fight. Arch knew the truth of it.
Owen was foreman now and because of his great regard and affection for Arch, he looked after, and cleaned up after, Lee even though they didn’t like each other.
That’s what he was doing when he ran into Lily Fasken’s brothers, delivering groceries and five hundred to the mother of the new baby. He wants the name of the father. Lily won’t say and neither will Owen.
An older Faskin brother arrives, sent for, and the pair keep pressing Owen, fighting, threatening to kill him, but Owen doesn’t talk
It’s also round-up time and the Acorn ranch is part of a massive gathering, broken up into two divisions, Lee heading one, Owen the other.
Before it’s all over, Lee is conspiring with the Faskins, telling them Owen is the father, and planning his murder. He’s out to sell the Acorn part of the herd and disappear with the money, desert his wife who he’d hurriedly married when Lily became pregnant, and dumping Jen, his fiance at the time. Edith was more malleable than Jen(who’d known Owen and Lee since they were all kids).
VENGEANCE VALLEY was published in 1949 and made into a film in 1951 starring Burt Lancaster as Owen Starbright. It stuk pretty close to the novel until the end, cut out a character or two, and made Jen Lee’s wife.
Liked this one.