Cagney was about 56 when he made this interesting western. He was a bit long in the tooth, but his vitality showed through his wrinkles and the result was a pleasing picture with more time spent on characterization than is usual in horse operas. Cagney's just done six years in prison for
a crime he didn't commit--the result of a mistaken identity. His son died years before, and when he meets Derek, who reminds him of the late youth, the two team up. They're riding along, minding their own business, when a train robbery takes place and they are suspected of it. A posse comes after
them, and Derek is crippled in the fracas. Cagney takes Derek to the farm of Hersholt, where his daughter, Lindfors, helps nurse Derek. Meanwhile, Cagney and Lindfors fall in love. To rectify matters, the people of the nearby town appoint Cagney as their local sheriff, with Derek as his deputy.
Cagney has to go off on assignment, and while he does, Derek allows the mob to lynch a prisoner. Next, Derek makes a deal with another prisoner (Withers) to allow him to escape in return for a cut of the crook's money from a robbery. Cagney returns and goes after the escaped crook with Derek
alongside. It's then that Cagney realizes Derek's double-dealing. Derek joins up with Withers and attempts to kill Cagney a couple of times, then, in the end, recovers his senses and saves his surrogate father before dying himself.
Cagney didn't make many westerns, and this was his first since THE OKLAHOMA KID. In Cagney's first film, SINNER'S HOLIDAY, he played under Withers, and he did the same thing in his third movie, OTHER MEN'S WOMEN. The times changed and Withers was now supporting Cagney. This picture also marked the
end of the 40-year career of beloved Jean Hersholt, a man who had a special Academy Award named after him. The Danish actor was known for his humanitarian works, and the Oscar is annually given to someone who best represents Hersholt's memory. leave a comment