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LAWRENCE TIERNEY CINEMA SUSTAINS W/ BADMAN'S TERRITORY

Lawrence Tierney gets scant screen-time, but looks cool YEAR: 1946
George "Gabby" Hayes is a Cinematic National Treasure; it's too bad his obnoxious, notice-me, gummy-mouthed role wasn't buried in an otherwise half-decent if strangely paced, offbeat Western misleadingly titled BADMAN'S TERRITORY, after a strip of land/purgatory between Indian land and where no white man law and order exist...

Thus Randolph Scott and tacked-on younger brother fit like loose, leafy gloves, and it takes a while to figure out why these seemingly stalwart heroes are hanging out with The James and Dalton Gangs, which adds to the overall uneven cadence that only sporadically attempts the kind of swift action the Western genre relies on. Leaving one desperate hope in our man Lawrence Tierney who plays, of all people, Jesse James himself; ironic since he'd become famous as another folk-hero outlaw in DILLINGER three years earlier (his moll Anne Jeffreys appears in the BADMAN'S sequel)...

Warner Archive Blue MOVIE SCORE: **1/2
Much of the picture involves progressive newspaper woman Ann Richards' quest to calm the waters of an already stagnant locale. It's fine enough she can stand up to any man, ala Barbara Stanwyk, even when falling reluctantly with Scott's intentionally passive-aggressive lawman. But her pivotal significance, along with too much filler dialogue, makes this villainous town feel safer and more at-home than Walnut Grove...

On the other hand, and the brighter side, in this first review (second for August) written since losing two pints of blood at the hospital, there's a few neat gunfights and one quick horse race, both filmed pretty well. In fact the best direction occurs during the first act as the camera sweeps across Main Street — the townspeople flowing along to witness our somewhat benign hero face-off with a half-ass, politically-motivated heavy that adds more cushion to what should have been a bed of bloody nails. The BADMAN'S talgine should be: Here Slept Jesse James... And Quite Peacefully.  
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