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GEORGE MONTGOMERY IN 'CANYON RIVER' W/ MARCIA HENDERSON

Year of Release: 1956
George Montgomery is perfect. So much so, his character has two first names, and both are... so damn perfect...

Original Warner Archive DVD
As Steve Patrick, an affable, dedicated and intrepid, rancher who has bred a new hybrid of beef cattle, needing to get through the harsh and sometimes deadly Wyoming winter to sell them on time for the best price (for to then buy a bigger, more lucrative ranch after selling all the remaining property to let the gamble ride), he has one gigantic flaw, and it's not his taste in women.

Although he shouldn't get credit for quickly landing the lovely Marcia Henderson, as a widow named Janet, since she, eventually along for the ride (with her young son) as a chuck wagon cook for the small group of cowpunchers, practically throws herself upon our almost-flawless leading man: His Achilles Heel isn't noticeable, to him, yet we know all about it...

Marcia Henderson cuts the meat
Friend and employee, Bob, played by the as-usual gravely serious Peter Graves, is all set-up for the double-cross – from the beginning, even before being jealous about the girl choosing his boss, he has it planned that a rich baron and his cutthroat hired guns hijack Steve's cattle at the title location of CANYON RIVER, making for one hell of a potential 11th hour climax...

CANYON Score: ***1/2
Except for a rowdy gunfight by campfire firelight with Montgomery's hired marauders, led by a boisterous Alan Hale Jr., whose fist-flying introductory saloon bout with Montgomery is one of the best scenes, not much comes of the ultimate build-up. The battle of roughnecks vs roughnecks doesn't really provide the closure deserved such anticipation, and the quiet, brooding menace of Peter Graves becomes sterile and basically forgotten...

Henderson and Montgomery in CANYON RIVER
Poor Bob is painfully envious from the budding romance between Montgomery and THE HYPNOTIC EYE starlet Henderson, who had nursed him to health after he was shot after having been saved by the very man he's turning against...

If anything, our sympathetic villain suffers so much guilt for backstabbing such a terrific fellow, it hinders his villainy from igniting this fairly uncomplicated and basic B-Western programmer, showcasing a lovely Cinemascope landscape along with the pulpy, simple tale wherein the most fulfilling moments occur in random conversations, in-between what's supposed to move the plot forward. In other words, the characters far exceed their situation: their motivations are one another. And isn't that how it should be?
George Montgomery looks for working cowpunchers in CANYON RIVER
Montgomery & Henderson in Canyon River
HYPNOTIC EYE starlet Marcia Henderson as Mrs Hale in CANYON RIVER
Peter Graves in CANYON PASSAGE
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