Another B-Western from Sinister Cinema’s “Sinister Six Gun Collection”.
Between Men is a strongly composed “B” directed by Robert North Bradbury (Courageous Avenger and several of John Wayne’s Lone Star Westerns). Bradbury was also the father of B-Western star Bob Steele, and his expertise in the genre is delightfully natural. Between Men has a strong cast in Johnny Mack Brown as the stalwart hero, and this may well be his best role. Beth Marion excels as the love interest, as does William Farnum in his scene-stealing role as Brown’s tormented father and Earl Dwire as the standard slimy villain.
Between Men has a richly melodramatic plot. Farnum (great wide- eyed acting) believes he has killed his young son (Brown) and flees west. Actually, the boy was only injured and is adopted by Lloyd Ingram. Twenty years pass and the visuals shift from the upper-scale Virginia countryside to the stark New Mexico desert as Johnny embarks on a journey to find his adopted father’s long lost granddaughter (Marion). Farnum has assumed a new name and is now Marion’s guardian after his hired hand (Dwire) rustles her cattle, kills her father, and attempts to raper her. Marion is saved by a “drifter” whom Farnum hires for protection, not realizing that Brown is his son, whom he believes to be dead.
Soon however, Farnum believes Brown is putting the make on Beth. Drifter Brown is not worthy of her. The film does not state, but seems to imply, that Farnum himself lusts after her. After Johnny fails to heed Farnum’s warning to stay away from Marion, a brawl between father and son breaks out, during which our dimpled hero obligingly loses most of his shirt. Farnum sees an identifying scar on Brown’s chest and belatedly realizes this is his son. Oddly, the film ends with Farnum sacrificing his life for the young lovers without ever revealing to Johnny that he is his father. Needless to say, the dastardly bad guys are killed off, with Johnny and Beth walking arm in arm into the New Mexico sunset. There is as much plot as action in this oater, which is a rarity in the genre of the thirties. This, along with assured direction, photography by Bert Longenecker and aptly over-the-top acting make Between Men one of the better B Westerns from the period.
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