Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cimarron City: Terror Town

Here’s another TV series I barely remember. Turns out there’s a good reason for that. It didn’t last long (26 episodes) and it was on against Have Gun Will Travel and Gunsmoke (which may explain why it didn’t last long).

Still, judging from a single episode, this was a pretty good show. For one thing, it had George Montgomery, one of the few TV cowboys who'd been a Hollywood leading man before making a series. I know he was a leading man because back in my hardboiled days I had this great 3-sheet (3 times the size of a normal movie poster) for The Brasher Doubloon on my wall. Never heard of the movie? You’re not alone. But it was special to me because it was the film version of Raymond Chandler’s The High Window. Yep, George Montgomery played Philip Marlowe.

The female lead in Cimarron City also had a Chandler connection. Audrey Totter was the ultimate deadly dame opposite Robert Montgomery in my favorite detective film, Lady in the Lake. Sadly, Audrey had no role in this particular episode, so I didn’t get to see her slink around Cimarron batting her evil eyes, but I'm hoping she graces the other three episodes on the disk.

“Terror Town” is a familiar story. Travelers and cowhands are being snatched off the prairie and pressed into slave labor in a mine. This mine is more interesting than most because the head guard is a man with a bushy beard, a maniacal laugh and a bullwhip, who happens to be played by a pre-Bonanza Dan Blocker.

Montgomery, as cattleman Matt Rockford (who is also the mayor of Cimarron City), is one of those snatched, to the sudden regret of the bad guys. In the heat of the action, Montgomery whips Blocker with a chain and throws molten lead in his face.

Whether it was merely the screen presence of Montgomery or higher-than-average production values, the show felt more like a real movie than a TV episode. And when Audrey Totter shows up, things can only get better.


Randy Johnson said...

The Brasher Doubloon is one I've wanted to see, but doesn't seem to be available anywhere. I've seen most of the other Marlowe films though.

Evan Lewis said...

I've never seen it either. What's the deal? You'd think the Chandler connection would make it a very marketable DVD.