The Proud Ones

The Proud Ones

When a flood of lawless gunmen invades his once peaceful town, Marshal Cass Silver (Ryan) knows it?s up to him to force them out. But the only chance he might have is to gain the help of a gunslinger named Thad (Hunter), who wrongly believes the Marshal is responsible for his father?s death. To save the town, Silver will have to earn the aid, and trust, of a man sworn to send him to his grave!The main draw (and quick draw) of this 1956 Western is the marvelous presence of Robert Ryan in the lead role. This underappreciated actor plays a Kansas marshal with a history of perceived cowardice in his past. Everything comes to a head in a single week: a cattle drive ends in town, bringing shootin’ and hollerin’; Ryan’s nemesis, a casino-runner played by veteran bad guy Robert Middleton, arrives to soak the suckers; and young hotshot Jeffrey Hunter, whose father was killed by Ryan, arrives with revenge on his mind. Oh, and Ryan himself begins to suffer from blinding headaches. Despite the crowded plot, the results are Fifties Western boilerplate, with few distinguishing features beyond the cast. But the supporting ranks are crowded with essential horse-saga actors: Walter Brennan, Arthur O’Connell, Rodolfo Acosta, and of course the bearded, lizard-eyed Middleton. Virginia Mayo plays Ryan’s hotel-keeper ladyfriend. Ace cinematographer Lucien Ballard gets a few good outdoor CinemaScope set-ups into the generally backlot feel of the thing. But the reason to see the film is lanky Robert Ryan, whose compelling mix of neurosis, gentleness, and fury is on full display here. –Robert Horton

Rating: (out of 16 reviews)

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