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The Vanquished
Drama, Western

1953 | 4:3 | COLOR | Quality: Excellent

John Payne

Lyle Bettger

Jan Sterling


John Payne is Rockwell 'Rock' Grayson, a southern hero who has just been released from a Union prison following the end of the Civil War. Upon returning home, he finds his town under the corrupt rule of local administrator Roger Hale (Lyle Bettger). The townsfolk delight in his return, thinking he is just the man to stand up to the cruel & sadistic Hale, but instead Grayson seemingly takes up employment doing Hale's dirty work. Among the dispirited townsfolk is Grayson's longtime love interest, Jane Colfax (Coleen Gray), who is shocked by what she is seeing but cannot bring herself to totally lose faith in her man. However, she must also lock horns with Rose Slater (Jan Sterling), a once spurned low-class hayseed who has used her friendship with Hale to catapult her social standing. Has Grayson really sold out his friends and homeland, or does he have something else up his sleeve?

This is one of many films that was made about reconstruction in the post-war South told from a Southern point of view. Though these films rarely touched on race relations, interest in the South's view of things waned following the Civil Rights revolution and these types of movies stopped. John Payne was no stranger to playing heroic leading roles, though he is forced to be very low-key here due to the duplicitous nature of his character. Lyle Bettger, who played some of the best villains of the fifties, does a fantastic job as the ruthless and calculating villain - he is truly terrifying. Jan Sterling also breathes a lot of life into this picture as the former white trash outcast who has now flipped the tables on society and wants to make them all pay, big time. The highlight of the film for me was a completely out-of-the-blue scene where Coleen Gray attacks Jan Sterling with a pair of scissors.

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