In the small frontier mining town of Warlock, rancher Abe McQuown's gang of cowboy cutthroats terrorize the peaceful community, humiliating the town's legitimate deputy Sheriff and running him out of town. Helpless and in need of protection, the townsfolk hire the renowned town tamer Clay Blaisdell, as unofficial Marshal, to bring law and order to the town. Clay arrives with his good friend and backup Tom Morgan. The two men stand up to the ranch gang and quiet the town. Johnny Gannon, a former member of the ranch gang is bothered by the gang's actions, reforms and takes on the deputy Sherrif job while his brother remains part of the gang. The addition of the official lawman to the mix further complicate matters, leading to an inevitable clash of the cowboys, the townsfolk, the gunslingers and the law.Written by
Two important roles were played by actors going very much against type. The often strong, tough, macho Anthony Quinn here is cast as a hesitant, even weak man. Tom Drake, who once played sensitive composer Richard Rodgers and while at MGM specialized in nice, clean-cut "boy next door" roles, here is cast as the chief villain, the evil boss of the vicious "San Pablo" gang. See more »
When Blaisedell and Morgan are about to ride into Warlock, they stop to overlook the town from a hilltop. The transition from the foreground with the actors, to the animated background matte painting of the town is quite noticeable, as the foreground moves slightly. See more »
"Warlock" is a decent western typical of the late 50's.
A cattle ranch owner and his men take the town nearby as their amusement place and terrorize its citizens; when an innocent barber is killed in one of the gang's nights of fun, they decide to hire a top gunman to put an end to the dangerous cowboy's actions. Clay Blaisdell (Henry Fonda)is the selected man and he arrives along with his sidekick Tom Morgen (Anthony Quinn) another fast draw too.
When Blaisdell -supported by Morgan- starts to do his job and things get better some of the town's folks are not quite satisfied with the man's ways and begin to wonder if his coming was a good idea. In order to bring some scent of law to the place they appoint Johnny Gannon (Richard Widmark) -a former member of the gang who thinks things went too far- as deputy sheriff. Gannon has not only to control the remaining vicious cowboys but he is also expected to get the town rid of Blaisdell and Morgan.
"Warlock" is perhaps a bit too long and the plot has many twists and different subjects to attend to (the strange relationship between the two hired gunfighters, Blaisdell's romance with local beauty Jessie (Dolores Michaels), revenge intentions of ex prostitute Lilly Dollar (Dorothy Malone)for a killing that happened in the past, Gannon's conflict with his kid brother Billy who is tempted to gain fame by challenging Blaisdell, and some others).
But nevertheless the film turns out entertaining and has tension, very well solved shooting and gunfight sequences, a fine location, good settings and remarkable performances. The final showdown between Fonda and Widmark is also a high point in spite of its outcoming.
Henry Fonda is a perfect choice as Blaisdell the aging gunfighter somehow tired of killing and moving and Quinn is very good as his unconditional friend and supporter. Richard Widmark is correct as the redeemed cowboy that becomes sheriff and Dorothy Malone renders one of her usual good jobs. The supporting cast is alright too.
If you like westerns this Edward Dmytryk piece is one to see and if you don't care much about the genre you'll probably find "Warlock" amusing and entertaining. It's a 7 out of 10 for me.
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