From Hell to Texas (1958)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Traditional Western  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Henry Hathaway had been making westerns for close to three decades -- and he had another decade to invest in the genre (including John Wayne's Oscar-winning turn in 1969's True Grit) -- when he made From Hell To Texas. Adapted from Charles O. Locke's novel The Hell Bent Kid, Hathaway kept his cast on their toes with fast-paced action and a lot of depth and development to their characters. And the film was an excellent showcase for that cast, a mix of veteran players going back to the 1920s (in the case of Jay C. Flippen) and energetic young performers, led by Don Murray as a hero the viewer very much cares about, and Diane Varsi. The big exception was Dennis Hopper, who gave the director so much difficulty on the set that the actor was essentially black-balled from major studio productions for most of the next decade, until Hathaway gave him another chance, in {#The Sons of Katie Elder. Actually, even Hopper is okay in this picture, though getting what is good here out of him was, apparently, like pulling teeth for the director. A grim revenge western with lots of conflict and interplay, and even some brief, effective moments of comic relief, From Hell To Texas should be much better known than it is, and is long overdue for repertory revival and a good letterboxed DVD issue to take full advantage of its CinemaScope photography.