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Incident at Phantom Hill

1966 | 16:9 WIDESCREEN | COLOR | Quality: Excellent

Robert Fuller

Dan Duryea

Jocelyn Lane


As the Civil War draws to an end, Captain Martin (Robert Fuller) accepts a covert mission to locate a gold shipment that was snatched from a Union party by a rebel Confederate gang led by Joe Barlow (Dan Duryea). During the attack, Martin's brother was killed and this drives Martin forward on his mission. When Barlow is offered a pardon to lead authorities to the gold, Martin, a small group of men, and a "Madame" (Jocelyn Lane) who has been sanctimoniously ushered out of Hays City, set off to the Staked Plains looking for the loot. But this is area ceded to the Commanche and outlaws stalk the land looking for ill gotten gains. Enough problems there as it is, but with water running low and the group coming apart due to differences and Barlow's scheming, it will be a small miracle if anyone makes it out alive!

Incident at Phantom Hill is directed by Earl Bellamy and jointly adapted to screenplay by Frank Nugent and Ken Pettus from a story by Harry Tatelman. It's a roll call of fine Western character actors, with the square jawed Fuller leading off on alpha male duties, behind him Akins (Comanche Station), Duryea (Winchester '73) and Noah Beery Jr (Decision At Sundown) lift the standard plot formula to better heights; further enhanced by the appearance of Denver Pyle (Fort Massacre) in a deliciously vile secondary villain role. A thoroughly good time is had here for Western fans who love traditional Oaters that feature a group dynamic creaking under the strains of a hazardous Wild West. There are some thin strains of psychological discord, but this is about good guys and bad guys, well-constructed action sequences along with some great punch ups, and of course the thirst for gold. The group dynamic is most interesting, with a driven leader, a borderline insane fellow, a doctor, a guilt ridden soldier, a colourful Irishman, a devious "Reb," and a floozy with a point to prove.

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