Friday, April 30, 2021

The Long Rope

By Christopher Robinson, WMD Senior Editor

A modestly-budgeted oater from director William Witney, The Long Rope actually delivers a fine wallop with an entertaining story in a mere sixty-one minutes.

In the aftermath of the murder of a cattle baron’s brother, a small town, anxious to hang a young Mexican man for the crime is met by a circuit judge (Hugh Marlowe) who finds good reason to investigate. Complicating matters is the accused’s wife, Alicia (Lisa Montell), believed by the town to have had an affair with the victim. Alicia belongs to a once prosperous Spanish clan whose land grants are being devalued in favor of the powerful ranchers.

The Long Rope is worthwhile viewing especially in light of its independent production and obscure reputation. It also holds the distinction of being one of the rare westerns produced by a woman, Margia Dean, whose previous career as a Hollywood starlet included the westerns, Ambush at Cimarron Pass, Stagecoach to Fury and The Return of Jesse James. The film’s cinematographer, Kay Norton, was similarly, one of the few women to lens motion pictures in the movie industry.

The fine cast also includes Alan Hale, Jr. (Yes, the Skipper) and western regular Robert J. Wilke as the sheriff and ranch boss, respectively. Exceptional sets (watch for the murder trial, incongruously staged in a cantina!) and moody and effective music are equally noticeable qualities in this humble offering created during a particularly lean period for westerns.

The Long Rope can be viewed currently on Starz Encore Westerns and ScreenPix Westerns.

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