There's not much to be done with names like "Brown Eyes" Lacy and "Lightning" Tyrone
Sep 15, 2011
You probably shouldn't expect too much from a western when you see that the characters have names like The Silver Kid, Marshall "Lightning" Tyrone, Johnny Sombrero and Opal "Brown Eyes" Lacy. Still, The Duel at Silver Creek has one interesting twist. It's the bickering misunderstandings between the two male good-guy leads, The Kid and "Lightning." Audie Murphy plays Luke "The Silver Kid" Cromwell and Stephen McNally is "Lightning" Tyrone. (It's a shame that we don't give our top law enforcers nicknames like this anymore. J. Edgar "Lightning" Hoover would have carried authority.)
There's a lot of lethal claim-jumping going around in the mountains near Silver City. A gang of killers forces the claim holders to sign over their claims, then gun them down so there are no witnesses. Marshal "Lightning" Tyrone, the fastest draw around, plans to hunt them down, bring them to justice or kill them himself. One of the claim holders had a son. He's aiming to do the same. He calls himself The Silver Kid. He's handy with a gun and good at poker. When "Lightning," no dummy who knows he needs more firepower, offers a deputy's badge to The Silver Kid, the Kid accepts. This is going to be a fraught partnership, complicated by a slick mining engineer (Gerald Mohr), a lush, pink-bosomed femme fatale (Faith Domerque) and Dusty (Susan Cabot), the feisty, pants-wearing tomboy we know will smarten up right fine in a dress. We meet the gang leaders early on. There are no surprises as we watch one shoot down miners in cold blood and another strangle to death a wounded miner.
I like Audie Murphy. His early movies leave a lot to be desired, but he grew into a decent actor. In real life he was a man to admire. In Hollywood he gave it his best and learned. In The Duel at Silver Creek he's no match for the hack-written dialogue and those nicknames. Try on "Thanks for the warning, Brown Eyes," "We're trapped! Spread out," "That was a smart stunt! I almost plugged you," "Hey, Dusty, Lightning's back!" and "He didn't have the face of a killer, but he had the cold-steel look of one. I noticed his hands were quick and sure." Stephen McNally was a competent actor, but here he's saddled with providing a dull narration to the story. There's not much he can do with what the writers gave him.
You might enjoy this movie if you like Audie Murphy, if you enjoy the turgid clichés of hack screenwriting and if you have something else to do while you watch. I'm three for three so I'll give it three out of five. You might not. . One last cliché to keep in mind. (And clichés aren't spoilers.) Remember that in Hollywood, good-natured old coots are always gunned down.
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About the reviewer
C. O. DeRiemer (Charley2)
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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