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GEORGE MONTGOMERY IN 'CANYON RIVER' WITH PETER GRAVES

CANYON RIVER Year: 1956 Rating: ***1/2

George Montgomery's character has two first names, and both are so damn perfect: As Steve Patrick, a creative rancher breeding a new hybrid of beef cattle, about to travel through the harsh and sometimes deadly Wyoming winter to sell on time for the best price, he has one gigantic flaw, and it's not his taste in women...

Although he shouldn't get credit for landing Marcia Henderson, as a pretty widow, Janet, since she — 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: And his Achilles Heel isn't noticeable, to him, yet we know all about it...

Peter Graves and George Montgomery in CANYON RIVER

Friend and employee, Bob, played by the gravely serious Peter Graves, is all set-up for the double-cross — in fact, even before getting jealous about the girl choosing his boss, he has it planned that a rich land baron and his cutthroat hired guns hijack Steve's cattle at the title location of CANYON RIVER, making for one hell of a potential climax...

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: This shoddy day-for-night roughnecks vs roughnecks battle doesn't provide the closure deserved such anticipation, and the brooding menace of traitor Peter Graves becomes sterile and basically forgotten...

Peter Graves and Marcia Henderson in CANYON RIVER

Poor Bob is painfully envious from the budding romance between Montgomery and 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 (like Hale telling Graves how lucky he is... if he'd just shape up), 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 in CANYON RIVER
George Montgomery and Alan Hale Jr. in CANYON RIVER
Alan Hale Jr. in CANYON RIVER
George Montgomery and Alan Hale Jr. in CANYON RIVER
Melinda Henderson in CANYON RIVER
Melinda Henderson in CANYON RIVER with George Montgomery
Robert Wilke and Peter Graves in CANYON RIVER with Walter Sande
Jack Lambert with Alan Hale Jr. and George Montgomery in CANYON RIVER
Alan Hale Jr. in CANYON RIVER
Melinda Henderson in CANYON RIVER with George Montgomery
Melinda Henderson in CANYON RIVER with Peter Graves
Melinda Henderson in CANYON RIVER
Warner's CANYON RIVER with George Montgomery
Alan Hale Jr. fighting and losing to George Montgomery in Canyon River
George Montgomery in Warner Bros Canyon River
George Montgomery in Warner Bros Canyon River
George Montgomery and Halen Hale Jr. in CANYON RIVER
Robert Wilke and Peter Graves in CANYON RIVER with Walter Sande
George Montgomery in Warner Brothers' CANYON RIVER
George Montgomery in Warner Brothers' b-Western CANYON RIVER
Robert L. Wilke in Warner Brothers' b-Western CANYON RIVER
Robert Wilke fighting and losing to George Montgomery in Canyon River
Jack Lambert and Marcia Henderson in CANYON RIVER
Opening credit for CANYON PASSAGE


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