Terror in a Texas Town (J.H. Lewis, 1958)

Terror in a Texas Town (Joseph H. Lewis, 1958)

Walking down the street with a whale harpoon in hand, Sterling Hayden comes upon a mysterious man whose lower half we see only from behind. He beckons Hayden’s character to come closer in a soft but sinister voice, and we cut to the opening credits. We quickly learn that the film has started at the end and the circumstances leading up to the opening take center stage. The film is set in a small, western town mostly under the control of a wealthy landowner with a hired gun in his back pocket. This hired gun is quickly revealed to be the mysterious figure from the opening, and becomes the most intriguing character of the bunch. He’s a deeply flawed individual, coveting anything he finds respectable in another man. The relationship between he and Hayden’s character – a man who fears no one and seeks justice – while teetering close to a conventional ‘good guy vs. bad guy’ contrivance, is actually very interesting because of each character has such a unique personality. And when the film finds itself back where it began, the final punctuation is exactly everything I hoped it would be.  9.5/10

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