August 2017


Terror In A Texas Town
Arrow Films/MVD
Blu-Ray Review By: Jaime Pina

A highly unusual and suspenseful take on the ol’ “land snatching in the Wild West” scenario with a bit of High Noon included. Produced in 1958 the film was written by blacklisted Hollywood writer Dalton Trumbo (Spartacus, Johnny Got His Gun) under an assumed name and directed by Joseph E. Lewis (Gun Crazy, The Big Combo). Since Trumbo was the writer and fellow blacklist victim Nedrick Young (The Defiant Ones, Jailhouse Rock) stars as the absolute embodiment of cowardly evil, there are strong political/social messages in the film.

Sterling Hayden (Dr. Strangelove, The Godfather) stars as a Swedish sailor who has come to Texas to see his father and the farm they have purchased only to find that his father has been killed and his land snatched. A wealthy man living the high life in the empty town’s hotel played by Sebastian Cabot (Family Affair, Romeo and Juliet) has learned that the town is “floating on oil” and is systematically getting the townsfolk to leave peacefully or through violence perpetrated by Young and his gang of hoodlums. Hayden stands up to the bullies and tries to rally the reluctant, remaining citizens to stand up with him and it becomes a battle of the wills until the final showdown.

Stylishly directed and photographed, this is a pleasing and tense western with some fantastic performances by all. Young is especially effective as the killer with a steel hand and his scenes are riveting. When he confronts the noble Mexican farmer played by Victor Milan, the scene is excruciating to watch because of the brutality involved. This is a killer doesn’t just kill people, he kills them to death and it is sometimes shocking when viewed.

The black and white photography of this film looks beautiful in this new Arrow Blu-ray. And the score by Gerald Fried is effective, most especially toward the end when he employs a rat-a-tat- snare and booming timpani drums. The extras include critical observations of director Lewis and a trailer. And look for the great cameo appearance by Glenn Strange of Gunsmoke.