Hell Canyon Outlaws

After contributing a number of write-ups encompassing film noir and a couple of visits to the small screen, guest poster Gordon Gates has turned his attention to a late ’50s western with Dale Robertson in the lead and Paul Landres behind the camera.

One of the more popular western stars of the 1950’s was, Dale Robertson.  He starred in a string of well made dusters like, The Silver Whip, City of Bad Men, Dakota Incident, A Day of Fury and Sitting Bull. He was also the star of the popular western television series, Tales of Wells Fargo which ran for 201 episodes between 1957 and 1962. Here is a lesser known Robertson film, Hell Canyon Outlaws (1957)

This one is an interesting low budget film from Jarod Zukor Productions and released by Republic Pictures. The leads are played by Dale Robertson and Brian Keith.

This one is set in the small western burg of Gold Ridge. Dale Robertson is the town Sheriff, who along with his Deputy, Charles Fredericks, has cleaned up the former rough and tumble town. It has been a few years since there was any real trouble and the town council now decides to let Robertson and company go.

Of course this idea soon backfires as four hard and ready types ride into town. The group is led by Brian Keith, and include three of the biggest thugs to grace the screen. The 6’7″ Buddy Baer, the 6’5′ Mike Lane and the 6’6″ Don Megowan, who make for a most imposing gang.

The outlaws soon make themselves at home, tossing hotel residents out of their rooms, helping themselves to the saloon’s beverages and so on. The whole thing rubs former Lawman, Robertson, the wrong way, but he can do nothing about the swine since he is no longer in power. And, as it so happens, the new Sheriff, Alexander Lockwood, is out of town.

In the mix here is Robertson’s soon to be bride, Rossana Rory. Miss Rory of course wants her man to stay out of the mess. One of the town’s young men, Dick Kallman, who considers himself handy with a gun, goes after the four. This does not go well for Kallman as he is quickly disarmed and tossed into a mud hole face first. He is lucky not to be killed as the outlaw types laugh at him.

The gang plan on having fun before hitting the local bank for a hefty withdrawal. Robertson can see where this is going, and sends his former Deputy, Fredericks, off to retrieve the new Sheriff from out of town.

When the new Lawman, Lockwood returns, he goes to have a talk with Keith and his men. As this is happening, the young Kallman has reamed himself and pops into the saloon to continue his “discussion” with gang leader, Keith. Kallman of course is soon ready for a plot at boot hill. Keith and the boys now slap around Sheriff Lockwood. They decide it is now time to do their “banking business”.

Robertson by now has had enough of this nonsense. Robertson and Fredericks arm up and go a calling on Keith and crew. Outlaw Baer is the first to go down with a bright shiny hole drilled through his forehead. More rounds fly with Megowan and Lane on the wrong end of the exchange.

Soon it is just Keith and Robertson standing across from each other. Keith pulls a 20 dollar gold piece from his pocket. He tells Robertson he will flip the coin into the air, when it hits the floor, they draw. The coin hits and iron flashes with both getting off a round. Who is the winner?

This one is a decent low budget quickie that runs just 72 minutes. The story is a bit shop worn and plays out like a poor man’s High Noon. Having said that, the cast and crew do quite well with what was an obvious shoestring budget. The acting is acceptable and the look of the film, quite sharp.

Paul Landres handles the direction here. Landres was a long time film editor who took up the directing reins in the early 50’s. While mainly known for television, he did work on a few b-films. The director of photography was the Oscar winning cinematographer, Floyd Crosby. Crosby was the man who shot High Noon. Also helping with the look of the film is another Oscar winner, editor, Elmo Williams. Williams also worked on HIGH NOON and won his Oscar for his efforts on that production.

Rossana Rory some might recall from the Italian films, The Big Boodle and Big Deal on Madonna Street.

Well worth hunting up in my opinion if you are a Robertson fan. Our man Colin has reviews here on RTHC on 6 Robertson films.
Gordon Gates

73 thoughts on “Hell Canyon Outlaws

  1. So glad to see someone else giving this one some attention.I’m a fan of Paul Landres, and I really like it.

    One of those where it’s fun to watch how they manage and manipulate the influences and conventions to make something a little different. And Landres does a good job building suspense till Dale makes his move.

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    • I know you’re strong on Landres, Toby. This one was Gord’s pick and I have to say I’m not at all familiar with Landres’ work. I know I’ve seen both The Vampire and The Return of Dracula but it’s been quite a long time.

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  2. When I was 9 years old “Tales of Wells Fargo” exploded to our TV screens in the UK and, already a huge western fan, I just couldn’t get enough of it. For me at that time, Dale Robertson as agent Jim Hardie was the ultimate western hero. It was a HIT. So when the film “HELL CANYON OUTLAWS” was released to British cinemas as “The Tall Trouble” it was sold on the strength of the TV series. Just how I didn’t manage to bully my parents into taking me to see it remains a massive tactical failure!
    I finally got to see the film when I picked a (not bad really) DVD copy about 10 years ago or less. Small budgeted and all that but it does the business for me.
    Oh…and by the way, I STILL watch and enjoy the WELLS FARGO series.

    Good to see the admiration for Dale Robertson, especially from JC Albert and Margot.

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  3. I first saw the film on You-Tube in 2016. The site was still up 6 months ago but it now seems to have vanished. Really is worth a look if you can find it. I agree with Jerry about the Robertson series, TALES OF WELLS FARGO. It is an excellent watch.

    Gordon

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  4. Weekend Watching —– NIGHT OF THE LEPUS 1972
    Rory Calhoun, Paul Fix, Stuart Whitman and Janet Leigh headline this William Claxton directed low renter from producer A.C. Lyles. A ranch in the American Southwest has a slight rabbit problem. These bunnies though are giant mutant, people eating, cow killing versions of Peter Cottontail. This one has to be seen to be believed. Part horror, part adventure, part sci-fi and all downright silly. I recall seeing this in the cinema when it came out back in the day. Good for a chuckle or two.

    Gord

    Liked by 1 person

        • Colin, I’ll ‘second that emotion’ about those Bill Elliott ‘tec films – but then I admit to bias where Wild Bill is concerned!
          Circling back to the WELLS FARGO series, the final series was 1-hour and in colour which was nice but, for me, the first 4 seasons were what gave it its special feeling. Luckily though I have hard copy of all 201 episodes in excellent prints and even the pilot episode from “20th CENTURY FOX HOUR”, I believe, titled ” A Tale Of Wells Fargo”.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Toby
    I throw my support behind the Bill Elliot Detective five. All are solid programmers that get the job done. Watched all over a weeks time back in 2014 or so. Was actually impressed by several of them. And here I am having never seen a Bill Elliot western film. I hope to remedy that oversight shortly.
    Gord

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    • Hi there Colin…..been here for a few years now. I find it remarkably interesting how often these threads keep circling back around to the “I’m a peaceable man”……Wild Bill Elliott. It is so often, I can only imagine the great response there would be to any Elliott film you would feature. Waiting for the day of much deserved recognition for the PEACEABLE MAN. No pressure…….lol.

      Liked by 1 person

        • In recommending Bill Elliott (and I do), I do feel (and this is just a very personal assessment) that the place to start in order to properly appreciate what made him popular with the fans is with an early Columbia ‘B’ like “THE MAN FROM TUMBLEWEEDS” (1940) and/or one of the great westerns he made for Republic, e.g MOJAVE FIREBRAND” (1944).

          Liked by 2 people

  6. As expected, an interesting review of an obscure western from quite a popular Dale Robertson and off topic info thereof. Best regards.

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  7. HELL CANYON OUTLAWS an independent production,
    released by Republic (and British Lion Pictrures in the UK)
    is now part of the Republic package now owned by Paramount.
    Apart from the entire Republic catalog,Republic also obtained a huge
    chunk of the Monogram/Allied Artists library (including Landres’ LAST OF
    THE BADMEN arguably the best of George Montgomery’s
    Allied Artists Westerns)
    Republic also own several Warner Bros released titles
    (the Milton Sperling and William Cagney Productions)
    and a clutch of RegalScope titles.
    Oddly enough one of these titles the trucker thriller with
    Bill Williams, ALASKA PASSAGE, debuts on Talking Pictures TV
    in the UK this week.
    Really the only hope for HELL CANYON OUTLAWS is an appearance
    on Talking Pictures TV as they seem to be running the whole gamut
    of the Paramount/Republic library. The only other hope is a Toby Roan
    lottery win.
    Gordon mentioned NIGHT OF THE LEPUS,it’s odd that this silly
    picture gets a Blu Ray release wheras the 13 or so A.C.Lyles
    Westerns remain unreleased apart from JOHNNY RENO which
    had turned up on DVD.
    As I recall HELL CANYON OUTLAWS was the support feature in the
    UK to HAPPY IS THE BRIDE an Ian Carmichael comedy and
    was titled THE TALL TROUBLE which I totally enjoyed at the time.
    I dearly hope that Talking Pictures TV show ALASKA PASSAGE in
    widescreen 2.35 but I should imagine it will be 4×3 pan & scan.
    So many great titles in the Paramount/Republic library which I
    very mujch doubt will ever see the light of day as far as disc
    releases go.
    On her excellent commentary for Indicator’s release of FRAMED
    Imogen Sara Smith name drops NIGHT EDITOR as a very worthy
    Columbia Noir well worth checking out…any RTHC readers seen this
    one. I also was amused by Imogen’s description of the Boston Blackie
    and Falcon pictures as “Noir Lite”

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  8. John
    NIGHT EDITOR is a very nicely done mid range noir. I quite enjoyed it. HELL CANYON OUTLAWS (THE TALL TROUBLE) is also a well put together little duster. I love how many of these low budget films are so entertaining. ALASKA PASSAGE now goes on my wanted list. Thanks for the heads up.
    Gord

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  9. Hi Gordon,
    I knew,you of all people would deliver the goods on
    NIGHT EDITOR.
    I think it has appeared on a Columbia Noir DVD set from several
    years back. It gets a two star review from Maltin but as we all know
    many worthy films get bad reviews from Maltin.
    Imogen’s high recommendation for the film made me think it
    must be something special and your endorsement of the title
    means it’s a must to track down.
    It would be sensational if ALASKA PASSAGE was shown in
    widescreen on Talking Pictures TV but I very much doubt it
    ………….watch this space!

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    • I liked Night Editor quite a lot. It’s got a great part for Janis Carter and it’s all pretty relentless till the ending, which could be seen as a bit of a cop out given what came before. Definitely worth a watch, it did indeed come out on a great value noir set from Sony years ago. I’m almost certain that’s out of print now but I’m also pretty sure you can find the movie on YouTube.

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  10. John, add my support for “NIGHT EDITOR”. A well done mid-range thriller with the lovely Janis Carter.
    I have set “ALASKA PASSAGE” to record. Watch this space indeed!

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  11. All
    My nightly wandering through You Tube came up with a UK title new to me. BLOOD ORANGE 1953 with Tom Conway, Mila Parely, Naomi Chance and Eric Pohlmann. Produced by Michael Carreras and directed by Terence Fisher US release title was THREE STOPS TO MURDER. Anyone seen this?

    Gord

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  12. People
    My nightly meandering through You-Tube brought me to this site, thegoldenagetvandmoviechannel. Take a look at this one folks. Full seasons of good looking full seasons of , THE REBEL(Nick Adams), TOMBSTONE TERRITORY, THE RAT PATROL, STORIES OF THE CENTURY, JOHNNY RINGO, THE RESTLESS GUN(John Payne), THE TALL MAN(Barry Sullivan), WHISPERING SMITH(Audie Murphy), CIMARRON CITY(George Montgomery), Enough episodes to keep one busy for a while.

    Gord

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    • Hi Gord and All

      Surfing the web a lot lately, doing my best to keep myself entertained, had brought me to viewing a couple of A. C. Lyles Westerns. John K got me going with a re-watch of JOHNNY RENO (1966) starring Dana Andrews. Andrews gives his competently typical type wooden performance that goes well with the character he portrays. The screenplay as a whole kept things moving at an enjoyable pace making for an entertaining experience.
      Up next was a real winner for me. Being the Rory Calhoun fan that I am, I was able to locate online a first time watch of BLACK SPURS (1965) starring Calhoun. We get to experience the typical Calhoun persona exhibiting the dialogue and delivery thereof, that we’ve all been pleasurably accustomed to, right down to his costumes of choice. For me, a Rory Calhoun western never disappoints with a uniqueness that is all his own.

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      • I can’t say I had a great time with those Lyles westerns, although I’ve only seen a couple.
        And much as I enjoy and admire Calhoun’s 50s westerns, I haven’t seen much if any of those he made in the following decade.

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  13. Scott
    I seem to find the more interesting films and television by just stumbling onto it. LOL Searching for a title seems to get me nowhere. Still, half the fun is in the looking.

    Gord

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    • Talking about just stumbling onto it, look just what just popped up on YouTube last month………..

      Prior to this was only able to find online one episode of THE TEXAN.

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  14. Another useful site you found, Gord. Almost all of those TV western series you listed are well worth a view. I have DVD sets of complete series of most of those. I particularly like “TOMBSTONE TERRITORY” and “THE TEXAN”.

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  15. Thought I’d put in a mention for one of the
    “HELL CANYON OUTLAWS” the hulking Buddy Baer
    Really my main interest is that you never know these days
    which films are going to get “High Def Makeovers”
    As it happens one vintage Baer title has just been released and
    another is being prepped.
    The highlight of Buddy’s career was QUO VADIS and working
    with Hawks on THE BIG SKY.
    Just released by The Film Detective is GIANT FROM THE UNKNOWN (1958)
    on DVD & Blu Ray; where Buddy naturally has the title role.
    This ultra cheap offering from Richard Cunha looks glorious with it’s
    new 4K restoration. The Bear Lake and Fawnskin California locations
    greatly enhance the film the direction,camera work and visuals
    are far superior to the norm in this type of fare-this little movie really
    punches above it’s weight.
    Buddy’s monster make up was created by Jack Pierce and very good it
    is too. Veterans Bob Steele and Morris Ankrum turn in engaging performances
    which generally add to the fun.
    Sadly Richard Cunha’s other 50’s fantasy fare (SHE DEMONS,FRANKENSTEIN’S
    DAUGHTER and MISSILE TO THE MOON were studio bound and suffered
    from papar mache monsters and cardboard sets.
    I’ve no doubt some if not all of Cunha’s other films will get high def
    makeovers and I will certainly be interested to see how they scrub up.
    Being prepped at the moment is JACK & THE BEANSTALK one of
    the few Abbott & Costello films made in color,something their
    regular studio,Universal never allowed.
    It goes without saying that Buddy plays “The Giant” in this one.

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  16. John
    Speaking of Buddy Baer, I watched an episode of the series, CLIMAX, from 1956 a while back. The giant 6 foot 7 Baer was hooked up with the 5 foot 5 Peter Lorre. They were a pair of rather mismatched crooks. Fun crime comedy. I have a blurb for it on IMDB. Both Buddy and his brother, Max, were ok actors in their bit parts in various films etc.
    Gord

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    • Actually, Max had a co-starring role with Myrna Loy and Walter Huston where he played the title role in “The Prizefighter and the Lady” (1933). Max, the actor, held is own quite well playing the heavyweight contender (Steve Morgan). Also of note, there is a very realistic staged championship fight with Morgan and then real life heavyweight champ Primo Carnera for which they fought to a draw. In retrospect, watching this movie years later, there is a surreal element to it that reflects large on the real life Max Baer personality that is highlighted throughout the film. The craziest thing of all is the following year (1934) heavyweight contender Max Baer defeated Primo Carnera for the title. For boxing historians this movie nails it.

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    • Max did not play bit parts but was in support. There is and are differences between the two, and certainly in both Quo Vadis and Jubilee Trail Buddy was likewise near the top of the support cast.

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  17. Re: Rory Calhoun above, I remembered seeing him in The Saga Of Hemp Brown, a tale on redemption. Its one the least talked about movies ,which I found entertaining and have not seen since ages ago.

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  18. Thanks Colin
    It would seem I had forgot all about your write-up. Though I still have not seen the film, I will get to work trying to dig up a copy. Thanks, again.

    Gordon

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  19. Gord, I too forgot about Colin write-up thereof. Being a Calhoun’s fan, you might be interested in two of his early Sixties movies, The Colossus Of Rhodes from Sergio Leone who gave us the ‘Fistful’ westerns and The Secret Of Monte Cristo. Both are equally exciting and entertaining.

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  20. My You-Tube travels brought me to a little programmer from director Francis Searle, called. THE GELIGNITE GANG from 1956. It stars Wayne Morris, Sandra Dorne, James Kenny, Eric Pohlmann and Patrick Holt. I saw it back in 2014 under the US title, THE DYNAMITERS. It is a watchable P.I. tale with Wayne Morris as the lead. Worth a look. There is a nice looking print up on you tube at a site called,
    Paul’s Classic British Films and TV Programmes. There is a whole selection of UK crime and noir there. PORT OF ESCAPE, DANCING WITH CRIME and THE FAKE are just a few I would recommend.
    Gord

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  21. Thanks for the tip, Gord. Looks very promising. I do have all the films you mentioned but that is only a sample I know.
    Many of that type of film, including “THE GELIGNITE GANG”, have turned up on our wonderful Talking Pictures TV channel.

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  22. Soon Talking Pictures TV will show a rare screening of
    THE CANADIANS Burt Kennedy’s directing debut but knowing
    Fox it’s almost certain to be a 4×3 pan & scan horror as was
    TPTV’s recent screening of ALASKA PASSAGE.
    It’s hard to believe in 2021 these ghastly 4×3 versions of
    CinemaScope films are still being shown on TV.

    Like

    • I haven’t seen “THE CANADIANS” in about 40 years so I definitely want to see it again. If they have a ‘scope print (unlikely) that would be real icing on the cake.

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  23. Jerry, John

    “THE CANADIANS” is one of the few films filmed on location in Saskatchewan where the story is actually set. More or less the same story as Alan Ladd’s SASKATCHEWAN from 54. That one was made mostly in the Rocky Mountains just west of here in Calgary. There are no mountains in Saskatchewan The local jokes are, Saskatchewan is so flat you can watch your dog run away for days and the only reason there are curves in the roads is because the world is round.. Been a long time since I saw “THE CANADIANS”. I sure could do with a re-watch.

    Gordon

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