DALLAS stars Gary Cooper as Blayde “Reb” Hollister, a Rebel colonel during the war who hadn’t let Lee’s surrender go to his head. We’re not exactly sure why at first. Allusions to something in Georgia are made a couple of times. I the beginning of the film, a new U. S. Marshall arrives in town, Martin Weatherby(Leif Erickson), Looking for Wild Bill Hickock(Reed Hadley). He’s a dandy from Boston, arriving dressed in a fancy suit and top hat. He’s just in time to witness a shootout between Wild Bill and Reb Hollister, in which Hollister is “killed.” He packs the body on Hollister’s horse and rushes it out of town with Weatherby before anyone can figure it out.
We next see them as Reb is making coffee over a campfire and a somewhat confuses Weatherby standing by. Wild Bill rides up and returns Reb’s sixgun. It was a going away performance as Wild bill was retiring to go into show business. Bill rides off.
Reb and Weatherby talk and we learn why the Bostonian has come west. He’d met a visitor to Boston, Tonia Robles(Ruth Roman) and they’d fell in love. He admits to taking the job to impress her and help her papa with his troubles. His ranch’s mortgage on money borrowed is coming due and he’s been hit hard by rustlers, bleeding off his herd bit by bit so that he can’t sell enough to meet the deadline. he suspects the man he borrowed the money from is responsible for the rustling, a man named Will Marlowe(Raymond Massey), a dealer in land. Papa believes he wants the ranch.
Which startles Reb. He’s looking for Bryant Marlowe(Steve Cochran) in connection with whatever went on in Georgia.
Bryant is the middle brother, the third being Longfellow Cullen Marlowe(Zon Murray). Will is the “honest” brother, Bryant the half crazy gunman, and Longfellow seems to be there to be killed early by Reb. It appears their father had a literary bent.
Reb concocts a plan where he switches clothes with Weatherby and becomes the new U. S. Marshall. Weatherby is pretty bad with a gun and goes along with it, even though he knows Reb is a wanted man. He does a little poking later in the film to learn that Reb is a guerilla, but sees that all his victims seem to be carpetbaggers and other such ilk sent down to milk the South of any wealth. He finds himself liking the criminal, though in private they address each other as Yankee and Rebel. For the little game he’s Martin Weatherby’s brother, the man who shot Wild Bill’s hat from his head and wears it proudly. Reb had conned the chapeau from the famous lawman at that last meeting.
And of course we get a romantic triangle going between Tonia, her fiance Martin, and the wanted outlaw. But the noble martin is working on a pardon, even though he can see the growing closness of the other two.
It becomes apparent early just how crazy, and dumb, brother Bryant is when he kills a saloon owner so Will can buy the building cheap for a town hall. Reb in his role as Marshall has put down five hundred with a promise to Will of ten thousand more when he can hand him the deed to the building. Will is of course furious at his brother and has to pretend to be knocked out as Bryant and his gang beat it out the back.
Bryant’s intelligence is shown further lacking when he has Reb surrounded, unarmed, and a gun in his ribs, ready to be murderd, and is talked into letting Reb ride out on Bryant’s horse. Well, at least long enough for a good start before they take off after him.
Reb maneuvers Will into putting up a bounty of two thousand, dead or alive, on Bryant, then sending Bryant’s horse out with the anted poster on it with the words, authorized by William Marlowe, on it, then follows it back to the hideout.
He has a plan to draw the brothers out.
The final section of the film is a tightly set-up scenario of Reb stalking each of the brothers, not knowing he’d been pardoned, aiming to lam out of town when it was over.
Liked this one.
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