Lawless Street, A [1955]

It would be nice to say that hiring Joseph H. Lewis (Gun Crazy, The Big Combo) to direct A Lawless Street led to its becoming a classic Randolph Scott Western. Can't do it. At this point in his career, Randy was cutting corners as star-producer, scoping out his next oil well, and not worrying that a blind grandma could see he was being doubled in the fight scenes. Scott plays a town marshal who's had enough of "taming the beast," just when greedy men are conspiring to destroy him. One of them (Warner Anderson) is also a rival for Scott's onetime music-hall flame (Angela Lansbury). Director Lewis is stuck in a back-lot Western town with a juiceless cast (apart from Jeanette Nolan's frontier widow and Michael Pate's gloved assassin), but his rigorous eye keeps framing scenes as if they had some classical urgency. Every once in a while, through the fierce purity of his style, they do. --Richard T. Jameson

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