Badman’s Territory, After some gun play with a posse, the James Gang head for Quinto in a section of land which is not a part of America. Anyone there is beyond the law so the town is populated with outlaws. Next to arrive is Sheriff Rowley, following his brother whom the Gang have brought in injured. Rowley has no authority and gets on well enough with the James boys but is soon involved in other local goings-on, including a move to vote for annexation with Oklahoma which would allow the law well and truly in.
One of Scott’s Best Films
Badman’s Territory. Old-fashioned: yes, but in the best sense of the phrase. This film has a kind of charm, without being too cornball. It isn’t slow but is perfectly well-paced.
The black-and-white photography is not as good as some Scott westerns but this is not a scenery type of western story. The sound recording must have been done on the cheap, but it doesn’t really matter because this is a western and it surely wasn’t made for the purpose of selling a soundtrack.
Movies of all eras (especially today) substitute macho posturing or posing instead of manhood as it was defined in the old days. In contrast, there are two scenes in this film that offer good examples of how things might have really occurred back then. First, the scene where Scott’s character just walks squarely into the corral and shoots the horse thief contains no dialog and doesn’t need it (good representation of an old corral by the way). The other scene shows Gabby’s character refusing to submit to the lawman’s demands, knowing that he is about to be shot. He is shot with minimal dialog in a room quietly occupied by the two men alone.
The fine line that was walked (and sometimes crossed over) between lawman and badman in the lawless areas of the west is well depicted in this film. I have used words like “depicted” in this review because the movie is intended as entertainment, not historical accuracy.
Randolph Scott, Gabby and others in the cast did more than merely stroll through what could have been just another formula western. They give a good effort and movie fans are the beneficiaries.