Ramrod

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Despite an enigmatic opening reel, the issues soon sort themselves out in this striking 'psychological' Western. Veronica Lake (excellent) is the strong-willed daughter of a rancher (Ruggles) who wants her to marry the man he admires, a ruthless, up-and-coming cattle baron (Foster). Clearly opting for a man she can dominate, Lake rebelliously elects to marry an out-of-town sheepman provided he re-locates on land she owns, careless of the fact that a range war will probably ensue. When the sheepman is scared off by Foster's threats, Lake defiantly decides to go it alone; and violence escalates as Foster, with her father's tacit blessing, sets out to bring her to heel. Caught in the middle as her reluctant ramrod is McCrea, just emerging from a bout of alcoholism after losing his wife and child. McCrea insists on doing things by the law, but finds himself sucked in as evil breeds evil, with Lake gradually emulating Foster, dirty trick for dirty trick. The stark little tragedy whereby Lake wins her war but forfeits McCrea's love is surprisingly persuasive; and all the performances are first-rate, with several minor characters (Crisp's ageing but indomitable sheriff, DeFore's happy-go-lucky opportunist, Whelan's patient 'other woman') adding their strands to the complex moral weave.

Release details

Duration: 94 mins

Cast and crew

Director: André De Toth
Screenwriter: Jack Moffitt, Graham Baker, Cecile Kramer
Cast: Joel McCrea
Veronica Lake
Donald Crisp
Don Defore
Preston Foster
Arleen Whelan
Charlie Ruggles
Lloyd Bridges
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