The Lone Hand A farmer, Zachary Hallock (Joel McCrea) and his son Joshua (Jimmy Hunt) try to establish new roots on their farm near a small western town victimized by outlaws. The merchants and ranchers form a vigilante group to oppose the constant threat to their families. They also try to recruit Hallock, but he refuses and instead secretly joins the outlaw band terrorizing the community. His son and new bride Sarah Jane Skaggs (Barbara Hale) don’t understand why he has seemingly decided to become an outlaw and has turned his back on everything and everyone most dear to him.
Through the eyes of a child
The Lone Hand is a western with a twist to it. We’ve seen many films from a child’s perspective but usually from a distance. In fact one of Joel McCrea’s best films Stars In My Crown is narrated by Marshall Thompson as a grownup Dean Stockwell. But here we have Jimmy Hunt playing Joel McCrea’s son narrating as well registering all the child’s conflicting emotions about an idealized father who is not living up to his expectations. And Hunt registers those emotions well.
McCrea who’s a widower and his son Jimmy Hunt arrive in a new place, one that’s been at the mercy of an outlaw gang that no one can catch. On the day McCrea arrives in town and purchases land for a farm, the sheriff is killed by these outlaws.
Still McCrea goes ahead with his plans starts working his land and even takes a beautiful bride in Barbara Hale. But soon enough a very curious Hunt sees his father consorting with outlaws and participating in their crimes. It’s all pretty traumatic.
I won’t say more other than you know McCrea is a good guy. Joel McCrea was probably the noblest of all cowboy heroes and noble in other genres as well. He could never be a bad guy, in fact he wouldn’t hear of being cast any other way in his career.
As for Jimmy Hunt this situation is also parallel to that classic science fiction film he starred in, Invaders From Mars where the young boy sees his parents betraying his ideals because they’re under the control of the Martians. And these films probably represent Jimmy Hunt’s career roles.