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Badlanders  Two men are released from the Arizona Territorial Prison at Yuma in 1898. One, the Dutchman, is out to get both gold and revenge from the people of a small mining town who had him imprisoned unjustly. The other, McBain, is just trying to go straight, but that is easier said than done once the Dutchman involves him in his gold theft scheme. A treasure to steal…a woman to win…a past to forget…

Up for Borgnine, Down for Ladd

Badlanders  I saw The Badlanders when it first came out in 1958 in theaters. It was my first acquaintance with both Alan Ladd and Ernest Borgnine. Then as now it’s a good action packed western. But that’s all it is.

I didn’t know at the time that this same plot had been done so much better by John Huston in The Asphalt Jungle. All the subtlety and character development that Huston had was sacrificed for action. Delmar Daves is a pretty good director of westerns and action is what they got here.

Mind you The Badlanders is a good film for the Saturday afternoon trade, but it was done so much better before.

Alan Ladd is Peter Van Hoek, mining engineer who has a heist in mind of his former employers. He’s the Sam Jaffe of this version. He’s looking for confederates and he enlists a former cell-mate from Yuma prison who is played by Ernest Borgnine. Sterling Hayden in the first version.

Ladd was on the downward side of his career. The Badlanders is a perfect example of the kind of films he was doing after Shane, routine action flicks which could easily have been done as the plot of any number of television westerns that were sprouting all over the place at that time.

Ernest Borgnine was still on the crest of his career from his Oscar winning performance in Marty three years before. He even got his then wife Katy Jurado in this film as his love interest.

Nice cast that’s familiar to western lovers round out the film. But everyone here has done better.

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