5.9/10
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39 user 10 critic

Vengeance Valley (1951)

Approved | | Western | 5 May 1951 (UK)
The sons of a Colorado cattle baron, one biological and the other adopted, resent one another and fight for control of their father's cattle empire.

Director:

Richard Thorpe

Writers:

Irving Ravetch (screenplay), Luke Short (based on a novel by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Burt Lancaster ... Owen Daybright
Robert Walker ... Lee Strobie
Joanne Dru ... Jen Strobie
Sally Forrest ... Lily
John Ireland ... Hub Fasken
Carleton Carpenter ... Hewie
Ray Collins ... Arch Strobie
Ted de Corsia ... Herb Backett (as Ted De Corsia)
Hugh O'Brian ... Dick Fasken
Will Wright ... Mr. Willoughby
Grayce Mills Grayce Mills ... Mrs. Burke (as Grace Mills)
Jim Hayward Jim Hayward ... Con Alvis (as James Hayward)
James Harrison James Harrison ... Orv Esterly
Stanley Andrews ... Mead Calhoun
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Margaret Bert ... Mrs. Calhoun (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

A cattle baron takes in an orphaned boy and raises him, causing his own son to resent the boy. As they get older the resentment festers into hatred, and eventually the real son frames his stepbrother for fathering an illegitimate child that is actually his, seeing it as an opportunity to get his half-brother out of the way so he can have his father's empire all to himself. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Based on the Thrilling novel and Saturday Evening Post serial by Luke Short See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

5 May 1951 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

La vallée de la vengeance See more »

Filming Locations:

Coal Creek, Colorado, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,008,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Joanne Dru couldn't stand to be around horses, yet she is best known for her work in westerns. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Hewie: I got a story to tell - a yarn about cow country, cow punchers and men. I was workin' for the Strobie Ranch, a trade of worn leather and saddle blisters and brandin' irons. A trade with some song, some fun and some luck. It was as good a job as a man could ask for. Lonely sometimes and cold - so much distance you'd have thought you'd never get back - but for me, a young kid, it was a fine time. Memories are mostly good. You're up on top of the world where the air is clean and thin ...
See more »

Connections

Featured in Tumbleweeds (1999) See more »

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User Reviews

Had Potential
11 April 2008 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

Lavish MGM was not a studio for Westerns. That king of studios excelled at big-budget, star-studded drawing-room dramas. On the other hand, Westerns tend to do better with small casts, tight stories, and good outdoor locations. Nonetheless, this MGM Western is generally underrated. On the plus side, is a fine male cast among the supporting players (Collins, Wright, Ireland, de Corsia, Carpenter {surprisingly},and Jim Hayward as the sheriff), some striking Colorado locations, and good attention to detail (note how injured persons do not quickly recover, and how the trail drive is treated in realistic detail). My guess is that the producers were following up on the success of Red River (1948), with another trail-drive Western, but without the latter's notable dramatic tensions.

Several factors work against Vengeance Valley. One is that critical lack of tension. The scenes don't really build to a dramatic conclusion, but simply follow one another in rather slack style. That results in a final showdown between Lancaster and Walker lacking the impact it should have given their family history together. Crucially, Director Thorpe adds nothing to the screenplay, and most importantly, adds nothing to Lancaster's performance which lacks the kind of shading that would normally build tension. I don't know whether to fault Thorpe or Lancaster for that one-note performance. But, unlike Wayne's character in Red River, Lancaster's Owen Daybright comes across as a rather dull and uninvolving character. He doesn't even seem angry or anguished during the showdown. Then there's Joanne Dru who appears unengaged with her part as Walker's wife. Many ambitious Hollywood actresses viewed the male-dominated Western as a come down, but whatever the reason, her scenes come across as emotionally flat, at best.

On the other hand, the screenplay is both well developed and unusual for its day. Wedlock babies simply didn't turn up in movies during that Production Code era. Here, Forrest's fatherless baby sets off the chain of events leading to the climax, and also provides unusual motivation for the bad guys. There's also the terrific Colorado locations and trail herds big enough to be believed. Clearly the studio put real money into the project. Too bad they didn't hire a more inspired director. With better guidance, Vengeance Valley had the potential to be a memorably epic Western. Even as things stand, the movie remains highly watchable and generally underrated.


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