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The Lone Hand (1953) DVD

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The Lone Hand (1953) Director: George Sherman     Writers: Joseph Hoffman (screenplay),  Irving Ravetch (story)      Stars: Joel McCrea,  Barbara Hale,  Alex Nicol     From a 1953 review: "Lone Hand," the Universal-International feature that went on yesterday with the Palace's new stage bill, is one of those wholesome little family-type Westerns that come and go amiably enough. As produced by Howard Christie, it includes some handsome Technicolor backgrounds and a trio of nice, easygoing performances by Joel McCrea, Barbara Hale and a particularly winning youngster named Jimmy Hunt. Directed at a leisurely pace by George Sherman, the action, for a while, shapes up as a surprising detour off a familiar trail in depicting an impressionable boy's reaction to his father's abrupt plunge into crime. While the plot is resolved in safe, standard fashion, credit must go to Joseph Hoffman, the scenarist, for an unconventional gesture, at least. Based on a story by Irving Ravetch, the film opens as a gentle, principled widower and his worshipful offspring invade a ranch community of the Eighteen Seventies, earning the respect of the neighbors and sharing their indignation, over raids by a pack of killer bandits. In no time flat, Mr. McCrea is one of them, presumably from the simple smell of money, to the consternation of the boy. The scenes of their bitter, monosyllabic deadlock, staged from the viewpoint of the stricken, loyal youth, are far more forceful and intriguing than the rootin'-tootin' finale, after it develops—it would—that Mr. McCrea is a strong, silent Pinkerton operator. Alex Nicol, Charlie Drake and Jim Arness fill minor roles competently. As the boy's new and equally distressed stepmother, Miss Hale is, as always, excellent. A good many spectators may sympathize with her indignant summary of her spouse's eleventh-hour revelation, as "a dirty trick." Not quite. But a picture that sacrifices a rather ingenious idea and some real people to surface folksiness can rightly be labeled a mild swindle.

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