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Stage to Thunder Rock

1964 | 4:3 | Color | Quality: Good - rare film with an aged print that shows wear but very watchable

Barry Sullivan, Dale Robertson, Marilyn Maxwell, Lon Chaney


Sheriff Horne (Barry Sullivan) is tasked with bringing in two outlaws who just stole $50,000 from the local bank, but there's a catch - the two outlaws are the sons of Keenan Wynn who took Sullivan in as a lad and raised him as a foster son. The two foster-brothers figure the sheriff will be lenient on them, but Sullivan shoots one son and apprehends the other, Ralph Taeger. Sullivan also takes possession of the $50,000 which is in a leather messenger bag that everyone hungrily eyeballs throughout the picture. Angry daddy Keenan Wynn is out gunning for Sullivan both for revenge and trying to free his boy. At the same time, bounty hunter Scott Brady needs money for his blind daughter and goes after a bounty on Taeger and Wynn - and if Sullivan gets in the way, that's just too bad. Still yet a third family needing money is mother Anne Seymour, father Lon Chaney, Jr., and daughters Marilyn Maxwell and Laurel Goodwin who run the station on the Thunder Rock line. They are nearing ruin as they owe back taxes on their property. Maxwell's home for a visit, but she's led a sordid life which she's trying to hide. Goodwin wants to lead any kind of life away from her parents. Chaney is henpecked and Seymour just wants the money to save the home. All parties converge at the Thunder Rock stage station where tensions run high as they can get! All parties have reasons to err on the side of bad - who will turn? Who will survive the night? It's these questions that keeps the picture watchable.

Stage to Thunder Rock is directed by William F. Claxton and written by Charles Wallace. It stars Barry Sullivan, Marilyn Maxwell, Scott Brady, Lon Chaney Jr., Anne Seymour, John Agar, Wanda Hendrix, Ralph Taeger and Keenan Wynn. Music is by Paul Dunlap and cinematography by W. Wallace Kelley. This was the second A.C. Lyles Geezer-Westerns, shot in the fall of 1963 back to back with the first, "Law of the Lawless," with a three month gap between the two releases. This is far from your typical shoot-em-up western and is instead a careful, sensitive character study, which becomes sort of a soap opera rather than horse opera, but the strong cast rises to the occasion. The disparate characters holed up at a Stageline Station each get a thorough examination. Here is the crux of the matter, there's money at the root of all evil here, and although it is hardly something new in Westerns, this assortment of characters makes for a very interesting group dynamic.

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