The Bushwhackers

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The Bushwhackers (The Rebel)

Western | 67 Mins. | Released: 1952
Director: Rodney Amateau
Starring: Dorothy Malone, John Ireland, Lawrence Tierney, Lon Chaney, Wayne Morris, Myrna Dell, Frank Marlow
Our Rating: 6
Black & White

In The Bushwhackers, Confederate veteran Jeff Waring arrives in Independence, Missouri shortly after the Civil War, and intends never again to use a gun. He finds that rancher Artemus Taylor, an arthritic despot, and his henchies, Sam Tobin and Cree, are forcing out the settlers in order to claim their land for the incoming railroad. The plot nearly predates “The Great Train Robbery” in age but the gritty execution and well-acted performances take it out of the norm… way out, in a couple of instances. Brassy Myrna Dell is on hand as Taylor’s independent daughter, only slightly less meaner than her father, and the always welcome Dorothy Malone is the pretty school marm on the side of good. Needless to say, Ireland’s passive outlook on life changes before the end of The Bushwhackers.

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Movie Notes:

REVIEW of The Bushwhackers:
John Ireland and Lon Chaney
by Kevin Olzak, December 2013
1951’s “The Bushwhackers (The Rebel)” is a very tight, tough hour-long Western, featuring a solid cast of capable veterans. The Civil War has just ended, and confederate soldier Jefferson Waring (John Ireland) believes he’ll never again have to point a gun at another man. Unfortunately, he soon finds himself in a lawless Western town where the settlers are battling to defend their homes against evil, greedy homesteaders headed by Artemus Taylor (Lon Chaney), a crippled, wheelchair-bound madman whose bitterness is matched by his devoted daughter (Myrna Dell), who may be even more ruthless than he is. Among the many familiar faces, Wayne Morris easily stands out as a marshal clearly working out of Taylor’s pocket, yet trying vainly to keep the peace, mainly through jailing the unarmed Waring. Third-billed Lawrence Tierney, never at home in Westerns like his younger brother Scott Brady, is totally wasted as a hired gun, dispatched midway through, while Jack Elam relishes his bad guy role, whether lasciviously eyeing the ladies or simply killing people. Despite playing the lead villain, Lon Chaney has very little screen time (only three scenes), but this elderly, arthritic character led to his being cast as Gary Copper’s elderly, arthritic Marshal in the subsequent “High Noon.”

Pacifist Pontification review of The Bushwhackers
by Spikopath, November 2013
Ah, The Bushwhackers (The Rebel), a Western packed to the rafters with ever watchable actors, but unfurled like an amateur homage to Oaters a decade or so before.
Co-written and directed by Rod Amateau, and starring John Ireland, Dorothy Malone, Lawrence Tierney, Lon Chaney Junior, Myrna Dell, Wayne Morris and Jack Elam, film finds Ireland as Civil War veteran Jefferson Waring, who has vowed to never pick up a gun in anger again. However, upon wandering into the town of Independence, Missouri, he finds a town awash with sinister rumblings as Lon Chaney’s Don Vito Corleone figure – backed by Dell’s nefarious daughter – is plotting to own all the local land because the Railroad is coming and there’s going to be a high premium placed on said land.
Cue Waring being pulled from emotional pillar to emotional post, with Malone batting her eyelids amidst a strong portrayal of feisty sexuality, until he takes up the good fight for the greater good in readiness for the finale that holds no surprises. There’s a mean spirited edge to the plot which keeps things interesting and spicy, and although they are under used, having Tierney and Elam as thugs for hire is always a good thing, but it’s directed and edited in such a cack – handed way there’s little to no flow to the picture. Making it practically impossible to invest in the characterisations.