- 1 hr 34 min
Ramrod is a 1947 film directed by German-born AndrÃ¨ De Toth and produced by Harry Sherman. Based on a Western novel by Luke Short, the movie stars Joel McCrea as Dave Nash, a former Sheriff who is determined to bring an end to the reign of terror of a ruthless cattle baron named Frank Ivey, played by Preston Fester. To this end, he teams up with Connie Dickason, a sharp and independent ranch owner played by Veronica Lake, who is also seeking revenge against Ivey for betraying her father.
Set in the small town of Gunlock, the story revolves around the struggle between Ivey and the ranchers who refuse to sell their land to him. As the town's lawlessness and violence escalate, Nash, who has a personal vendetta against Ivey, is hired by a powerful rancher to restore order in the town. Along the way, he wins Dickason's admiration, to Ivey's chagrin, and forms an unlikely alliance with a hot-headed young cowboy named Bill Schell, played by Don DeFore.
The movie, shot in black and white, has all the classic elements of a Western: gunfights, horseback riding, and fistfights. But it also has a strong storyline which explores the themes of betrayal, revenge, and redemption against the backdrop of the Old West. McCrea's performance as the stoic and dependable Nash anchors the film and adds a level of depth and nuance to his character which is rare in Westerns. He is a man driven by a deep sense of justice and duty, and he is willing to risk everything to protect the people he cares about.
Veronica Lake's Connie Dickason is another standout character. Unlike the typical female roles in Westerns, she is a woman who is not afraid to speak her mind, take action, and stand up for herself. She is fiercely independent and competent, and she helps Nash every step of the way in his mission to take down Ivey. Don DeFore's Bill Schell is the impetuous and naive cowboy who learns valuable life lessons from Nash. Their relationship is an interesting one, as Nash recognizes something of himself in the young man and tries to steer him away from making the same mistakes he did.
The film's direction and cinematography are also noteworthy. De Toth, known for his use of low-angled shots and stark lighting, infuses the movie with a sense of tension and menace. His signature style contributes to the film's atmosphere of palpable danger and suspense, and adds to the film's authenticity. The use of location shooting in the rugged terrain of Utah also adds to the film's texture and realism.
Overall, Ramrod is a well-crafted Western that stands the test of time. It is a film that is more than just a collection of genre tropes, it is a morality tale about good vs. evil, justice vs. corruption, and the power of determination and love to overcome even the most daunting obstacles. The performances by the lead actors, the tight script, and the excellent direction make it a must-see for fans of Westerns, and anyone who appreciates a good story.