For Reel

Return of the Bad Men (1948)
July 9, 2016, 2:25 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Ray Enright
2.5 Stars
Return of the Bad MenAfter having had success in casting Randolph Scott as the lawman surrounded by countless famed gunslingers in Badman’s Territory, RKO repeated the formula only two years later with Return of the Bad Men. Despite the title, it is a spiritual sequel at best—George “Gabby” Hayes reappears here in a completely different role—and this time the narrative is a typical “land rush” scenario that sees a plot of Oklahoma Territory becoming a part of the United States and the nefarious characters that threaten it. Very few films can’t be improved with the appearance of Robert Ryan, who appears as a purely corrupt version of the Sundance Kid, who assaults, murders, and cowers in fear when challenged. What made the first film such a compelling minor western was how it dealt with the morality of the characters—although Scott was undeniably good, he was surprisingly accepting of the life of an outlaw. In this film, however, the sense of good and evil is far more black and white, with Scott attempting to “save” an attractive young outlaw played by Anne Jeffreys by telling her to get a job or start a family. The toothless plot coupled with the bland characterizations make Return of the Bad Men play as a disappointment considering the talents involved, although the final shootout is exceptionally well photographed.

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