Man in the Saddle, I have to say this is one of the better Randolph Scott pictures that I’ve seen from his career previous to the “Ranown” films. It has a much more compelling story than a lot of standard oaters from the 40s and 50s, with not one but two interesting female characters.
Scott plays Owen Merritt, a tough rancher who is provoked into a range war by the uber-competitive Will Isham (Alexander Knox). Isham has married a former flame of Merritt’s (Joan Leslie) and can’t stand the thought that she might have residual feelings for Merritt. Also in the mix is the more tomboyish Ellen Drew who plays a neighboring rancher who helps Merritt and falls in love with him.
There’s a very interesting social subtext to the story with the two women — the Leslie character is from a poor rural background but wants to escape her history, while the Drew character is more grounded and self-aware and doesn’t want to run from her own life. The Knox character is also interesting, psychotic and yet noble. Richard Rober plays the more coldhearted gunslinger who he hires to do his dirty work, and the dynamic between Rober and Knox is interesting as well.
I quite enjoyed it and will gladly watch it again. It’s not hugely memorable, and the ending is a bit of a let-down, but it has quite a few nice moments and a good western atmosphere with a more interesting story and characters than most. Andre de Toth’s direction is very efficient and stately.
Man In The Saddle Is Classic Action Western No Longer Found