Chris Foster and Bert Pickett are two drifters who are passing through the border town of Adonde. There, a drunken Bert gets into a brawl at a card game and punches the town sheriff.Chris tries to help Bert get away but the sheriff arrests both men.The town doesn't have a jail and the sheriff usually chains the prisoners by the neck to a wooden post in the town square.Bert and Chris, wearing iron collars around their necks, are chained to the post. Also chained to the same post are the town drunk and the violent gang of famous wanted outlaw Lavalle. The outlaws have more to lose than Bert and Chris who only have to serve a few days chained to the post.Therefore, Lavalle and his men start digging around the post to free themselves.Unfortunatelly, they also force Bert and Chris to participate in the escape attempt.Written by
Audie Murphy was reportedly furious when he learned that "Showdown" would be in black and white for budget reasons. But the b&w seems appropriate for this western because Murphy's character is the perfect film noir hero. He usually played a gunfighter with a troubled past, a lawman, or a combination of the two but here he is Chris Foster, an ordinary cow puncher who just wants to collect his pay and celebrate with his pal Bert Pickett (Charles Drake). Because of Bert's drunken misbehavior, he and Chris have to go to "jail" which in the little New Mexico town means a post in the middle of the street with chains bolted to it and an iron collar for the prisoners. It is a very visually arresting (if you will pardon the expression) image. Also chained to the post is the notorious outlaw Lavalle (Harold J. Stone) and his gang which includes Foray (L.Q. Jones) and Caslon (Skip Homeier). When Lavalle and friends escape, Chris and Bert have to go with him putting them on the run from the law. From there, Chris tries to keep himself and his friend alive - not to mention clear their names - as they attempt to buy their way out with some bonds stolen from an express office. There is even, if not a femme fatale, a cynical dame who could help the two men out of their trouble but is unable to trust what Chris tells her. Now, if that's not a noir plot, I don't know what is. Noir, noir on the range. Not one of Audie's best, neither one of his worst (so far I haven't found a "worst"). But as always, Audie Murphy is a charismatic lead actor. The cinematographer is Ellis W. Carter. Location shooting was done at Lone Pine, California which is a good match for the film's setting in New Mexico, especially in the desert views.
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