High Lonesome CoverIf you're ever thinking about moving into a new town, please make sure you're clean looking, well spoken, and don't get accused of murder. Or else you might find yourself in this brave and bold adventure Directed by: Alan Le May; and Starring: John Drew Barrymore, John Archer, with Lois Butler. It was made in 1950, and lasted for a whole 81 minutes.

High Lonesome

I know what the people in this town think of me. They think that I'm a thief and a liar because I broke into a home and ate their food.

But I'm not, God damn it. I'm an idiot. I'm an idiot they call 'Cooncat' (John Drew Barrymore), who gets tricked by two strangers into killing someone that stole some money from me.

Yeah. Straight up! That's what I tell to the law-man residing in this burg, Pat Farrell (John Archer), a moment or two before taking him to the scene of my crime, only to discover that nothings is there! Not the dead body. Not the money. And not the two strangers either.

Hey! Don't you go fretting yourself, partners! Pat doesn't think I'm off my rocker. He and his kin are too kind for any of that business. Instead, his girlfriend, Meagan Davis, (Lois Butler), cleans me up and gets me something to wear. Their stable-hand, Boatwhistle (Chill Wills), tells me about the history behind this lo-cal. And Meagan's younger sister, Abby (Kristine Miller), dances with me at a barn-dance they host a couple of days later.

Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires all goes to pot when the two stranger saunter into view and I'm accused of another murder. As divisions are made - Boatwhistle is dismayed - the good guys get played - and at the end of the day I can't help but get a little frayed.

In my most humble opinion 'High Lonesome' is one of those films that really does put on one hell of a great show. Part's of it was very wholesome in fact, and conveyed a message of community spirit and frontier kinship. Whilst other part's of it was rather trigger-happy in tone, insinuating that might can sometimes be right.

John Drew Barrymore in High Lonesome
Hey! Please don't get the wrong impression, dear reader. I'm not trying to imply that this movie has some sort of bi-polar nature. Far from it. It's just that if I had to illustrate this tale symbolically, I'd say that this it was a home-made apple-pie with a splattering of blood slightly drooling along one corner of its crust.

Ouch! Did I just say that out loud? Yeah. I did. Didn't I? But then again I do mean this with all due respect. Because if like me, you can look past the rather static camerawork and the made for TV productions values, you'd find that this western is a very good western because it has it all.  

For instance, it has: (1) A scene where someone gets dragged along the ground by a horse. (2) The John Ford family type dynamic conveying unity and division. (3) A story-line that is both enveloping and stayed in flavor. (4) Two very pretty and gutsy frontier women in very tight jeans. (4) The young pup that's misunderstood plus a bit of plonka. (5) The bold and brash farm hand you love to see a lot more of. (6) The villain that is both vile and sinister at the same time. (7)  A lot of gun play and a bit of singing. And (8) The heroes that's got to do what a heroes got to do.

High Lonesome Movie Poster

High Lonesome Film Poster
One sec! Do you know what? While I'm in a bullet-point mood, let's have some bullet-point facts, folks. (1) 'Eagle-Lion Films' first released this production on the same day that the TV host, Doctor Phil McGraw, was born -- the 1st of September, 1950. (2) The majority of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of Texas. This includes Antelope Springs, Presidio County, plus Marfa. (3) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Tiger of Texas' in Brazil; 'In the Heat of the South' in Germany; and 'Night Avenger' in Sweden. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'Ghost fingers pressed the trigger -- and death flashed from the shadows'. (5) Yep. You're correct. The 'Smiling Man' was in actual fact the doctor from the first Cannonball Run film: Jack Elam. (6) Alan Le May, who wrote and directed this flick, also wrote two classic novels that were adapted into two classic westerns: 'The Searchers', starring John Wayne, and 'The Unforgiven', starring Burt Lancaster. Also, on a side note, this was the only film he ever directed throughout his twenty-three years in the business. (7) The production company that produced this film, 'Le May-Templeton Pictures', only produced two films in its one year history. This one, plus another western called 'The Sundowners'. (8) After this movie was made, John Drew Barrymore starred in another western called 'Quebec'; John Archer starred in a TV show called 'The Bigelow Theatre'; and Lois Butler made her final screen appearance in 'The Ezio Pinza Show'.

The Cast of High Lonesome

Overall I would have to define 'High Lonesome' as being a pretty nifty yet not so classy film. The story told a fairly decent story. The characters had a lot of character to them. And all in all it's one of those westerns that'll make you want to eat a home-made apple-pie after you've watched it.

Minus the blood of course.