VENGEANCE VALLEY

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Vengeance Valley Cover By in large fostering a small child is a very healthy and nurturing thing to do. The child will grow up. The child will understand what's right from what's wrong. And the child will then star in this smashing western Directed by: Richard Thorpe; and Starring: Burt Lancaster; Robert Walker, with John Ireland. It was made in 1951, and lasted for a whole 83 minutes.


Vengeance Valley : The Book - The Film


THE STORY:
Now how in the hell was I supposed to know that once I gave Lily Fasken (Sally Forrest) $500 for her and her newborn baby, her brother would mistake me to be the father of her child?

I mean, I'm not like at all. Honestly I'm not. I'm just a humble cattle herder called Owen Daybright (Burt Lancaster), who felt obligated to perform this devilish deed in the first place, because a member of the family that took me in since I was a lad told me to do so.

Hey! Don't get me wrong. I'm not referring the elderly gentlemen that raised me like a son, Arch Strobie (Ray Collins)! Of course I'm referring to his real son -- Lee Strobie (Robert Walker) -- expectant husband to Jen (Joanne Dru), and a right pain the ass once she finds out what he did behind her back.

Granted, Jen doesn't discover the truth about Lee's past transgression the same time I did. One of Lily's brothers, Hub (John Ireland), tries to kill me first. That's when Lee suddenly turn sour and sets a plan in motion involving Hub, the ranch, and a rival cattle poacher, that causes me to look at him in a completely different light.

Still. That's most probably why what next transpires all goes MOO when cows come riding into the prairie. As a scheme is put in motion - a brother turns his back on devotion - some gun-play is primed for a shooting - and at the end of the day a finale comes with quite a bit of commuting.  




THE REVIEW:
OK. I know that this may sound rather strange, folks, but with hand on my heart I'd say that 'Vengeance Valley' reminds me of a Wild West version of the 'Cain and Abel' parable.

Vengeance Valley Film Poster
Yeah. No kidding. For a start, you've got that whole good brother / bad brother set-up. Then you've got a morality tale juxtaposing the wrong thing to do, in contrast to the right thing to do. Plus to top it all off, there's all that stuff and nonsense about obligation, family values, and unity in the face of opposition.

Now please don't take my words the wrong way. Cause I did enjoy this film an awful lot. Heck, the only bad thing I can really say about it, is that it did meander in places, plus certain action scenes did come across rather 'processed' upon the screen.

But apart from that though -- nah -- this is one smashing film. Every single one of the actors did a great job performing their respective roles -- especially Burt (wholesome) Lancaster, who could really throw a mean jab back in the day. The set's appeared very stoic and well polished considering the time this piece was made -- the early fifties. And overall, the tale in itself was a very nice tale to follow -- mainly because everyone's motives seemed relatable by nature, even though here and there certain character trait's were very one dimensional in tone. 


Vengeance Valley Movie Poster


Vengeance Valley with Burt Lancaster and Robert Walker
Anyway. That's enough of that for the time being. Let's have some filmic-facts now, shall we? (1) 'Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer' first released this production on the 16th of February, 1951, and clawed back $1.8 million dollars at the box office. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'The Valley of Hate' in Belgium; 'Boldness' in Brazil; and 'Valley of Revenge' in Poland. (3) One of the taglines used to promote this picture was 'Based on the Thrilling novel and Saturday Evening Post serial by Luke Short'. (4) Now if you took any notice of the previous fact, you might like to know that the novelist in question, Luke Short, was known to be a very dab hand with a gun, and knew the likes of such people as Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson. (5) This Western premiered in the said-same city where most of it was made -- Canon City -- located in the American state of Colorado. (6) For some strange reason MGM never renewed the licence for this production once it eventually ran out. Yes. That's correct. It's now PD. (7) Excerpts from this film can be seen in the 1994 Tim Roth crime-drama, 'Little Odessa', plus the 1999 Janet McTeer comedy, 'Tumbleweeds'. (8) After this movie was made, Burt Lancaster starred in 'Man of Bronze'; Robert Walker starred in 'Strangers on a Train'; and John Ireland starred in 'The Scarf'.


Vengeance Valley Lobby Card with Burt Lancaster and Robert Walker


Now before I bugger off to pastures new, dear reader, the last thing I'd like to say about 'Vengeance Valley' is that it did prove to me that story and character are paramount in making a very magical movie. You don't need special effects or flavors of the month to tell a great tale. Hell no. What you need is a story that unfolds a scene at a time, actors that can inhabit the roles they are playing, plus a steady flow of dialogue or voice-over narration that engages with the audience, and tells us that life is what you make of it, but only if you face up to the truth without lying.

And with that, my friends... Nuff said.  

THE RATING: A