Fort Defiance

'Kill or Die' Was The Indian Cry!

Action Western
82 min     5.3     1951     USA


It's just after the Civil War and Ben Shelby arrives looking for Johnny Tallon whom he plans to kill. Shelby was the only survivor of a battle due to the cowardice of Tallon. Thinking Tallon dead, another man who lost a brother at the same battle arrives to kill Tallon's blind brother. Tallon arrives to find Shelby and his brother fleeing. Then they are attacked by Indians and Shelby and Tallon must now fight together postponing the inevitable showdown. - Written by Maurice VanAuken


John Chard wrote:
Oh Brother! Fort Defiance is directed by John Rawlins and written by Louis Lantz. It stars Dane Clark, Ben Johnson, Peter Graves and Tracey Roberts. Music is by Paul Sawtell and cinematography by Stanley Cortez. Plot has Clark as sharp shooting Johnny Tallon, a feared man he may be, but after a dreadful incident in the Civil War he is a wanted man. Upon returning to the family ranch where his blind brother Ned (Graves) resides, he finds one of his pursuers, Ben Shelby (Johnson), has befriended Ned and become more of a brother to Ned than Johnny ever was. With the Indians on the warpath and saloon impresario Dave Parker (Craig Woods) out to kill of the Tallon family, something's got to give... There's a degree of complexity on show with the writing here, where the family strife and fall out from the Civil War makes for an always interesting viewing. Also refreshing to find that Graves' blind character is not a heart string tugging token, it's a meaty portrayal by Graves, the character not trying to garner sympathy. There's a richness to the key characterisations in general, ensuring that at least when the story treads familiar Westerns pathways (Indian attacks shoehorned in - Roberts' token saloon gal love interest) all outcomes are anticipated with interest. The location landscapes are gorgeous, which renders the use of Cinecolor as being annoying. The pronounced reds and blues detracting from the natural beauty of the surroundings, though thankfully the print shown on TCM-HD is of a decent quality. The action sequences are only competently staged, but there's enough gun shots and stunt working bodily thunder to perk up the pic, while acting across the board is on the good side of good. Strong plotting and super scenery help to keep this one above average and worth seeking out by Westerns lovers. 6.5/10