Terror in a Texas Town (1958)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Western  |   Release Date - Aug 25, 1958 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This tidy little b-western is a hidden gem of the genre. The script was pseudonymously penned by Dalton Trumbo and he clearly used his experiences as a blacklisted writer to add an element of social undercurrent that gives an added dimension to the film's standard plot. He also works in a number of unique touches, like making the hero a transplanted foreigner and creating a finale in which an unlikely weapon is used to fight the villain's guns. The performances are solid, with Sterling Hayden making a reliably square-jawed good guy (albeit one with a novel Swedish accent) and Nedrick Young offering a gangster-ish interpretation of a villainous gunslinger that owes as much to Humphrey Bogart as it does to Black Bart-style archetypes. Also worthy of note are Sebastian Cabot as the sarcastic businessman behind the villainy and Carol Kelly's sympathetic turn as the villain's tragic, self-knowing lover. However, the best part of the film is the assured direction by b-movie vet Joseph H. Lewis. He takes great delight in playing up the eccentric elements of the storyline, giving it an unearthly feel, and assembles the imagery with plenty of style. The final showdown he stages is one of the most unique in western history, bringing oddball flair and psychological drama to the face-off to create a moment of pure b-movie poetry. To sum up, Terror In A Texas Town is a keeper and well worth the time for western fans in search of something off the beaten path.