Judy and I celebrated the Fourth yesterday by going to the gym early (before it got too damn hot). Judy stayed at the pool while I came home to clean up, eat lunch and watch an old episode of BAT MASTERSON, starring Gene Barry. Then, when Judy got home, we watched BRANDED, a 1950 western starring Alan Ladd.
Ladd stars as Choya, a wanted gunfighter. He falls in with Jefferson Leffingwell (Robert Keith) and Tattoo (John Berkes). They have a scheme to mark Choya with a fake birthmark and pass him off as the long lost son of Texas rancher Richard Lavery (Charles Bickford). If the ruse works, Choya would be the heir apparent to a fortune, one which will be split two ways after Leffingwell kills Tattoo.
Choya goes along with the scheme and it works but he's wracked by guilt and he's attracted to his "sister" Ruth (Mona Freeman). He eventually finds out that the real Lavery son (Peter Hansen) is alive and well. He's been raised by Rubriz (Joseph Calleia), a Mexican rancher. Choya is determined to reunite the real son with his family, no matter who or what stands in his way.
BRANDED is a solid little western with a good cast. The screenplay by Sydney Boehm and Cyril Hume is adapted from the novel MONTANA RIDES by Max Brand. Journeyman director Rudolph Mate does a good job. Mate also directed the film noir classic D.O.A (1950) and the science fiction epic WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (1951). The Technicolor cinematography by Charles Lang and W. Wallace Kelley is lush and vivid but everything looks a little soft around the edges. Ladd, who had a long film career, would later star in SHANE (1953), in his signature role.
BRANDED is an old fashioned western adventure, the kind of film they stopped making many years ago. But it made for a pleasant diversion on a brutally hot Fourth of July. Thumbs up.