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The Black Whip

1956 | 16:9 | Black & White | Quality: Excellent

Hugh Marlowe

Angie Dickenson

Coleen Gray, Adele Mara


One of four local saloon girls orchestrates a daring jailbreak, setting free a ruthless member of the dreaded gang known as the Blacklegs. Since the local sheriff doesn't know which one did the deed, he kicks all four ladies (Coleen Gray, Angie Dickenson, Adele Mara, Dorothy Schuyler) out of town. As they search for a new home, they find word of their link to the Blacklegs has preceded them and no one wants them around. Finally, they do find a kind soul who agrees to take them in to a ghost-town he operates as a stagecoach station (which has no law enforcement). This brings the ladies into contact with down-and-out former Confederate Lorn Crawford (Hugh Marlow), a broken man who has a past with the Blacklegs. The fears surrounding the women turn out to be well-founded as the leader of the Blacklegs surfaces. He is John Murdock (Paul Richards) - a vicious fellow who prefers his signature black whip to a gun. He and his men quickly ride in and take over the small town, making it their base of operations. In between harassing the girls and attacking the locals, the Blacklegs are plotting a bigger scheme: kidnapping the governor of Kentucky (Patrick O'Moore) and holding him for ransom! The only man who stands in their way is Crawford who must put his inner demons aside and regain his fighting spirit.

A career role for Paul Richards, who portrays a fascinating villain with a serious touch of madness combined with elements of cold sadism. This is a very oddly structured western which was actually a "cheap and dirty" independent production that gained enough attention to get a national release. The premise is extremely interesting, combining elements of Key Largo, Suddenly, and Rawhide all while boasting a stellar cast. It was one of the first "RegalScope" films and the ultra-wide black&white shots are certainly nice to look at, as are the four saloon ladies who get put through hell. The film does betray its low-budget nature in parts and the plot, though extremely interesting, does have some cracks. However, the performance of Richards saves the day here as he gives a fascinating study in villainy for the viewer to chew on - and also the whip action is delightful to watch. Richards' character must be the only guy aside from Lash Leroux or Indiana Jones who can bring a whip to a gunfight and come out on top!

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