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Posse From Hell

1961 | 16:9 WIDESCREEN | COLOR | Quality: Excellent

Audie Murphy

John Saxon

Vic Morrow


In 1880 four escapees from death row, Crip (Vic Morrow), Leo (Lee Van Cleef), Chunk (Henry Wills) and Hash (Charles Horvath) ride into the town of Paradise and enter the Rosebud Saloon. Crip shoots the town marshal Isaac Webb (Ward Ramsey) and takes ten men as hostages, killing some to ensure his gang escapes unmolested. On the way out they snatch $11,200 from the Bank of Paradise, and also grab local lady Helen Caldwell (Zohra Lampert) who was trying to help her alcoholic Uncle Billy (Royal Dano) who was one of the captives. A posse is quickly formed which is to be led by the slain Marshall's friend - loner and ex-gunfighter Banner Cole (Audie Murphy) - but good men are hard to find and Cole senses he would be better off on his own. The rag-tag posse consists of the aged former Army Captain Jeremiah Brown (Robert Keith), who wishes to lead the posse himself in the manner of his long-gone Army days, Uncle Billy, Burt Hogan (Frank Overton) who wishes to revenge his brother Burl (Allan Lane) murdered by the four, Jock Wiley (Paul Carr), a young gunhand seeking the experience to establish his reputation as a gunfighter, and Seymour Kern (John Saxon) a New Yorker who hates the West, has never ridden a horse or fired a gun before, and is a complete fish out of water. Kern was browbeaten into joining by his banker boss and is tasked with seeing to it the money gets back. Rudolfo Acosta who usually plays bad guys plays an Indian/Mexican who joins the posse as a tracker and takes a lot of guff from the more self righteous whites. The posse is badly outclassed and many will die from this point on - and seeing how deadly Morrow is with a shotgun this is an image that will disturb you and stay with you a long time - but from such adversity can heroes and friendships be born...

This film is a perfect western - a simple yet engaging plot that is high on action, blood, and gutsy bravado. A solid cast of B-Movie mainstays combine with some rather striking cinematography to compliment the tidy screenplay, which includes some interesting good vs evil philosophical musings. For Murphy fans this film will not disappoint - he gets to do a number of great scenes like pouncing on a rattlesnake, diving through a window, and plenty of gun play moments for him to get his teeth into. It also represents a good characterisation performance from him as Banner Cole, a man rough around the edges but definitely beating a humanist heart underneath the tough exterior. John Saxon in particular does well showing true, believable growth - he isn't just there as a foil/sidekick for Murphy to play off of, but as a genuine character treated as equally important to the storyline. Rudolph Acosta, usually a villain in the movies, plays an equally important role as an outsider who joins simply because "it's the right thing to do." A must-see for Western fans, especially Audie Murphy cultists. Major plus point is the use of Lone Pine, Alabama Hills, for the exteriors. A wonderfully rugged, yet beautiful part of the world, where the weird rock and boulder formations envelope the characters as a reminder that it's tough out here in the west.

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