Hulu to the rescue again. When I need a bad movie I know I can count on Hulu’s classic movie section. This is Treasure of Ruby Hills, from 1955 out of William F. Broidy Productions (distributed through United Artists). It’s based on The Rider of the Ruby Hills by Louis L’Amour. If you don’t already know, L’Amour was, with Luke Short and Zane Grey, the image of American Western pulp fiction. Details are from Wikipedia.
This is a straight-line Western movie plot. The Wild West, vast resources open to exploitation during post-Civil War expansion. The bad guys seize the opportunity, and the guns come out. Here, two not so bad as the other bad guys, work their plan. They are Ross Haney (Zachary Scott) and Tom Hul (Steve Darrell), holed up in a cabin in the wilderness awaiting a compatriot to return from a mission. They hear a rider approaching in the dark. They exit the cabin with great apprehension. Is it friend or foe. It’s friend. It’s Ben, whom they have been waiting for. They ask him if he filed the title in Arlington (this is in Arizona). He says yes. Then he falls off his horse and dies. His last words are “Frank Emmett” (Lee Van Cleef). He’s been bushwhacked.
So, Haney rides into town to take on the trouble. Along the way he meets Sherry Vernon (Carole Mathews). This is going to lead somewhere.
So, there are two tough guys: Walt Payne (Charles Fredericks) and ‘Chalk’ Reynolds (Barton MacLane), each angling to take control of the entire valley. Meanwhile, newcomer to the valley, Alan Doran (Dick Foran), has engineered a war between the Payne and Reynolds gangs, leading to a shootout in town that leaves a bunch of cowpokes dead and wounded and both their leaders dead.
Emmett is working for Doran, and Emmett’s remaining job is to take out Haney, which does not go as hoped for. In a quick draw contest in the saloon, Haney comes out on top.
Now Doran is left with the task of taking out Haney on his own, along with the remainder of his gang, of course. An ambush in a deserted town is also unsuccessful, as the good side gets wind of the plot and turns the tables, quite literally. Doran and men are caught in the middle of a raging gunfight in a saloon, and that’s the end of Doran. Ross Haney and Sherry ride off together. A classic ending.
And that’s the story, a bit different from L’Amour’s original. The Kindle version is $2.99 from Amazon, and I loaded a copy. I haven’t read it through yet, but the scene with the cabin in the boondocks does not seem to be there. There are those two land-grabbing kingpins, but with “Pogue” being substituted for “Payne,” and there is that massive shootout in the street that leaves both dead. Frank Emmett becomes Star Levitt, not killed in a saloon shootout, but in a grim wilderness setting, with rain and lightning flashing, and sweet Sherry looking on.
The book is well-written, and a review is coming. But the movie is a caricature of the book, a succession of vignettes cobbled together to hint at the original. Absurdities abound. Look at the gunfight in the street. All those battle-tested cowpokes standing behind posts along the street, blazing away with their six guns. Who directed this? (Frank McDonald)
This movie was peeled off the success of Hondo, based on another L’Amour story, which he wrote for the movie and then made into a book. Who can every forget the opening scene of Hondo, with John Wayne walking out of the desert and straight into the story? A review to follow.