Written and Posted by Sarah
Dan Duryea starred with Audie Murphy in Universal-International's 1954 B-Western, Ride Clear of Diablo. This was the first of three films that they would make together. Performances are a bit uninspired by all the supporting actors, but Audie and Dan sparkle with sheer brilliance. There's not a bad line from either of them. This is my all-time favorite Duryea film!
Don't read any farther if you haven't seen this film yet.
The basic story-line is quite typical but the interpretation is totally unique! The film opens with Audie's father and brother being killed by cattle rustlers. We, as the audience, are able to recognize them as the crooked town sheriff (Paul Birch), the crooked town lawyer (William Pullen) and their henchman Russell Johnson. Of course, Audie doesn't know this yet! He is a surveyor for the railroad, but he takes a leave of absence from his job to return to his father's ranch. He's bent on finding the killer and bringing him to justice --- in a totally legal way. He talks Birch and Pullen into deputizing him, thereby giving him legal grounds to find search out the killer. The two crooks feel that this is the perfect way to get rid of honest Audie. They figure on sending him out after local gunmen (hoping he'll be killed before he discovers the truth.)
So, who is the most notorious gunman in the area? None other than the great Whitey Kincade (Dan Duryea). No one has ever been able to out-draw him, and the crooks feel that this is the surest way to get rid of our hero. Of course, even Dan Duryea can't beat Audie Murphy when it comes to gun play! Audie wins and takes Whitey back to town for a trial. Birch and Pullen use false testimony (delivered by Johnson) to get Whitey acquitted.
This western has the interesting twist of the deputy and outlaw becoming friends. Whitey takes a liking to Audie after discovering his honesty and motive behind his work. When Birch and Pullen arrange the theft of an expensive stallion (in the hope that Audie will be gunned down by Jack Elam and his gang) Audie goes straight to Whitey. The two spend the rest of the film working together. In the end, Whitey even dies to protect Audie.
Whitey Kincade. Dan Duryea never played a better role in his whole career. This is my very favorite Dan Duryea film. He had the chance to showcase that fabulous maniacal laugh of his in this character. Whitey is a crazy, trigger-happy gunman who is out for the excitement that he can get out of life. Almost every line is a gem. The scene when Audie and Whitey go into the old mine to have it out with Russell Johnson is totally fabulous!
If you haven't seen this film, then I would definitely recommend it. It you would like to read a blow-by-blow synopsis, CLICK HERE for the TCM page.