Sunday, September 5, 2021

#2,611. Man in the Shadow (1957)


A year before he directed the masterful Touch of Evil, Orson Welles appeared in this crime/ western, playing Virgil Renchler, owner of the Golden Empire ranch and the most powerful man in the small town of Spurline.

One day, Ben Sadler (Jeff Chandler), the new sheriff of Spurline, receives a report that Juan Martin (Joe Schneider), a Mexican hired hand employed by the Golden Empire, has been murdered by the ranch’s foreman, Ed Yates (John Larch).

But when Sheriff Sadler tries to investigate, he finds himself facing off against not only Renchler and his cronies, but the entire town of Spurline as well!

Directed by Jack Arnold (who also helmed The Creature from the Black Lagoon), Man in the Shadow is a taut, slick modern western that’s also an effective thriller. Chandler is excellent as the Sheriff determined to see that justice prevails, and Welles is predictably engaging as Renchler, who isn’t so much the heavy as he is a man backed into a corner by those working for him (he was as surprised as anyone to learn Martin had been killed). The scenes in which these two characters verbally spar are the film’s best.

Also superb in supporting roles are John Larch as the treacherous Yates and Colleen Miller as Skippy, Renchler’s kind-hearted daughter.
Rating: 8 out of 10

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