The Violent Men

The Violent Men is a 1955 American Technicolor CinemaScope western drama film directed by Rudolph Maté and starring Glenn Ford, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Dianne Foster, Brian Keith and May Wynn.[3][3][4][4][1][4][1][5][1][3][4] Based on the 1955 novel Smoky Valley by Donald Hamilton,[6][4] its storyline involves a ranch owner who comes into conflict with the land grabbing tactics of the big local family but whose own tense marriage threatens their stranglehold over the region.

The Violent Men
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRudolph Maté
Produced byLewis J. Rachmil
Screenplay byHarry Kleiner
Based onSmoky Valley
1955 novel
by Donald Hamilton
Music byMax Steiner
Edited byJerome Thoms
Columbia Pictures
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • January 26, 1955 (1955-01-26) (New York City)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,950,000 (US)[2]


John Parrish, a former Union Army officer, has been living out west to facilitate his recovery from an old war wound. Now that he has a clean bill of health, he plans to sell his land to Anchor Ranch and move east with his fiancée, Caroline Vail. However, he is troubled when he witnesses the town sheriff being gunned down by Wade Matlock, one of the henchmen working for the Anchor Ranch. Later, Anchor's crippled owner, Lew Wilkison, presents a low ball offer for John's ranch, telling him he has 24 hours to respond. After thinking about it, John decides to sell. Then, one of John's ranch hands is murdered by Wade.

John's men ride into town for revenge, but he orders them back to his ranch and tells them that the new town sheriff, who works for Lew, is waiting to arrest them if they kill Wade. Alone, John confronts Wade in the town saloon, surrounded by Lew's men. John asks Wade to give himself up for the killing. Wade begins to laugh. Josh slaps his face, grabs his gun hand, while pulling his own gun and killing Wade. John quickly exits the saloon before Lew's men can react.

The next day, John rides to the Anchor Ranch and tells Lew that his ranch is not for sale. Further, as he rides out, John tells Lew, "Don't force me to fight, because you won't like my way of fighting." This riles everyone at the Anchor Ranch, except Judith, the daughter of Lew and Martha. Not all is well at Anchor with Martha carrying on with his brother, Cole, who also has a Mexican girl friend in town.

Led by Cole, Lew's men burn down John's ranch. Unbeknownst to Cole, John and his men expected this. Using his military experience, they ambush Cole and Lew's men, causing major casualties.

Back at the Anchor ranch, Cole and Lew argue and Cole decides to leave, going into town to see his Mexican girl friend. Meanwhile, John and his men cause Lew's horses to stampede, forcing all of Lew's men to leave the ranch to deal with the horses. With the ranch unguarded, John's men set fire to the Anchor ranch. Still at the ranch, Lew and Martha are caught in the fire. Lew asks Martha for his crutches and she throws them into the fire before running from the burning house, leaving him to die.

Martha finds Cole and tells him that Lew is dead and together, they can rebuild Anchor. Cole agrees to help Martha and assembles a small army of men, with help from the sheriff, who believes that Lew is dead. Back at the ranch, Judith finds Lew, who has crawled from the burning house and is hurt, but far from dead. Judith takes Lew to the hills where John and his men are hiding.

Cole and Martha return to the ranch with the army of men but are confronted by John and Lew. The sheriff is shocked to see Lew, who orders the small army to leave his property. John, seeing Cole in the distance, rides toward him for a final showdown. Martha smiles, expecting Cole to kill John. They approach one another and start shooting. Cole is shot in the chest and falls to the ground, dead. Martha runs to him and as she kneels down, she sees Lew and Judith approaching her. In a panic, she runs from the ranch, only to be killed by Coles's Mexican girl friend.

Later, in town, John and his men are loading supplies on their wagon, when Judith approaches and tells John that her father would like him to run Anchor. John tells Judith he has his own ranch to rebuild and rides off. Then he quickly returns and smiling, he tells her "your father once told me he'd get my ranch one way or another." John and Judith ride off together.



The Violent Men was released in theatres on January 26, 1955. The film was released on DVD on April 5, 2005.[7]


Critical response

Film critic Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote in his review: "COLUMBIA has pulled all the levers in making The Violent Men, a broad-beamed and action-crammed western that opened yesterday at Loew's State. It has ticked off a well-machined scenario, a three-starred "big name" cast and a scenic outdoor production that looks mighty grand in CinemaScope. If, at the end, it leaves you feeling you've seen just another horse-opera — another run-through of squatters battling rangers—it's no wonder, for that's what it is."[8] TV Guide wrote:"Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Glenn Ford, and Brian Keith star in THE VIOLENT MEN, a better-than-average psychological western featuring impressive CinemaScope photography and some hard-charging action scenes."[9]

See also


  1. Blottner 2015, p. 241.
  2. 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
  3. "The Violent Men". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  4. Beck 2008, p. 332.
  5. Darby 2009, p. 97.
  6. Hamilton, Donald (1976). Smoky Valley (Reissue ed.). United States: Fawcett Publications. ISBN 978-0449136775.
  7. The Violent Men. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (DVD). Culver City, California: Sony Pictures. 5 April 2005. ASIN B0007MAO02. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  8. Crowther, Bosley (27 January 1955). "The Screen in Review; Good Ones Shoot Bad Ones in 'Violent Men'". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved 6 May 2017.
  9. "The Violent Men". TV Guide. New York City: NTVB Media (magazine) CBS Interactive (CBS Corporation)
    (digital assets). Retrieved 6 May 2016.


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