Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Overlooked Movies: Man in the Shadow

As I mentioned on Friday, I read the novelization (by Harry Whittington) of this movie before watching it on Encore Westerns.  The movie and the novelization are very similar, although the level of violence in the movie doesn't equal that of the novelization.  The poster looks pretty good, and it makes me wonder what the movie would have been like in color.  As it is, it's a low-budget B&W production.  The B&W photography is very effective, so maybe color wouldn't have served this modern western well.

Jeff Chandler plays Ben Sadler, the sheriff who's going to investigate a murder of a worker on the Golden Empire Ranch, no matter who tries to stop him.  Orson Welles plays Renchler, the ranch owner, who asked two of his top hands to teach the worker a lesson.  He fights back, and they kill him.  They figure no one will care about one more wetback (the movie's term) death, but they didn't reckon on Sadler.  The closer Sadler gets to the truth, the more Welles ups the ante, and soon an attempt is made on Sadler's life.  It fails, but finally he's beaten and humiliated.  I won't spoil the ending for you, but there's nothing new here.

That doesn't mean it's not relevant to our own time. It certainly is.  You'll have to watch it and make your own judgment, but it seems more relevant now than ever.  It's very well done, and Orson Welles, even though he must have needed to money to make this kind of movie, is very good.  He's fun to watch.  Chandler is handsome and stalwart.  The supporting cast is very good, with Colleen Miller, Ben Alexander, William Schallert, Paul Fix, Royal Dano, Leo Gordon, and probably some others you'll recognize.

Man in the Shadow isn't a classic, but it's gripping for its short running time.  There's no trailer available.  Catch it if you can.


Anonymous said...

I DVRd this one and have watched half. Not a bad low budget Universal picture. Another film in which Orson outshines everyone just by being there.

John M. Whalen

August West said...

Whenever I see a Jeff Chandler movie I can't get it out of my head how Esther Williams, in her autobiography, shamefully claimed that Jeff Chandler was a cross-dresser and she would catch him parading around in her wardrobe during their love affair days. And then later she admitted she made it all up just so people would be interested enough to buy her book. Nasty!

Unknown said...

I was surprised when I read her autobiography and saw that passage. NTTAWWT.