The Sundowners Cover Now we've all seen two brothers fighting before, haven't we? Usually this sort of thing involves some name calling, a little bit of slapping, and as expected, a lot of making up afterwards. Yet, whilst saying that, I'd say this type of a joust isn't always so straight forward. As seen in this 83 minute movie made in 1950, Directed by: George Templeton; and Starring: Robert Preston, Robert Sterling, Chill Wills, with Cathy Downs.

The Sundowners

I shouldn't have done it, should I? I shouldn't have accepted my older brother's offer for help as soon as he strolled on into town.

Yet like a sap I said to myself, 'Tom Cloud (Robert Sterling)', for that is my name 'Go on. Allow James (Robert Preston) to track down those cattle poachers who've stolen your herd. I know he's an outlaw. There's no doubting that. But you never know. He maybe able to aide you and your apprentice, Jeff (John Drew Barrymore), with your fledgling farm?'.

And he did you know. Sure he did. Kicking the bad guy's into touch with his devilish ways. Still, how in hell was I supposed to know that James would also annoy a rival farmer, called John Gall (John Litel), by stirring up his live stock? Furthermore, how was I supposed to know that he'd irritate Earl Boyce (Jack Elam) by hitting on his wife, Kathleen (Cathy Downs), too?

I mean, I'm not a clairvoyant. I am a man of simple ways. With a ranch to attend to and an apprentice to teach as best I can.

Then again, that's most probably why what next transpires tumbles with the tumbleweeds when a bad brother goes from bad to worst. As people get killed - horses get thrilled - some poachers take a whipping - and as the sun comes up a brother takes a right good bloody kicking. Yeeiiii-hawwww!!!

[ Don't Ask ]

Now I'd say that at the heart of 'The Sundowners' is a very good story wanting to break free. Hey. Don't take me wrong. This film is a great film if you're a fan of this type of rustic western production. Yet, in the same breath, if you take the overall narrative out of the equation, the rest of it seems very dated and lackluster to say the least.

The Sundowners Film Poster
Yep. That's right, folks. This is one of those movies that I liked and disliked in one fowl swoop. On the one hand the tale told a really good tale. And this was supported to the nth degree by some great actors who did the best with what they had at hand. However, on the other hand, the characters were of the one note variety, the camera work was rather shabby in the execution, and on occasion, it was kind of difficult to figure out what was really going on because the plot jittered about from one subplot to the next.

You see, on a conceptual level, this flick is about a brother reluctantly accepting some help from his older brother, resulting in a myriad of misfortune and misunderstanding by a plethora of nondescript bad-guys. Now from my point of view, if these villainous protagonists were more cleanly defined within the central plot, I'd say that this piece would have been easier to follow and more exciting than what it was.

Again. No disrespect given to this film. As it is a very good film. Nonetheless, more in this case would defiantly mean more. More character. More drama. More defined. And more... errr... more.

The Sundowners Lobby Cards Starring Robert Preston and Robert Sterling

The Sundowners Starring Chill Wills
Anyway. That's enough of that for the moment, folks. Here. Check out these filmic facts to learn a bit more about this flick. (1) 'Le May-Templeton Pictures' first released this production on the same day 'What's My Line" was first televised in America -- the 2nd of February, 1950. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Early Bird' in Brazil; 'The Dark Riders' in Finland; and 'Kid the Lawless' in Sweden. (3) This was the first of three films George Templeton ever directed in his thirty year career. Usually he was a second AD, or shot for television and filmic shorts. (4) Alberto Colombo, who composed the 'O'Riley' song heard in this flick, has also composed one hundred and three other musical scores throughout his fifteen years in the business. (5) Most of this movie was shot on location throughout the American state of Texas. This includes Amarillo, Canyon, Stinnett, Davis Mountains, and Palo Duro Canyon State Park. (6) This was the second of two films produced by 'Le May-Templeton Pictures'. The first one being another film I reviewed called 'High Lonesome'. (7) After this Western shot out of its holster, Robert Preston starred in an episode of 'Studio One'; Robert Sterling starred in the crime-drama, 'Bunco Squad'; and Cathy Downs starred in another Western called 'Short Grass'. (8) Now with a name like John Drew Barrymore, can you guess who this actor's very famous daughter really is? No. It's not Jeff. That's the name of the character he plays in this film, silly. It's the one and only Drew Barrymore of course.

The Sundowners Lobby Cards

All in all I'd say that 'The Sundowners' is one of those films' that sure deserves an updated remake. The story was good. The actors showed promise. And at the end of the day it was only let down by some unfocused direction and a dated style.

Nuff said.