Four decades before Harrison Ford portrayed a hardened man thrust into a pacifist world in 'Witness,' John Wayne played a similar role in 'Angel and the Badman.' Yet while Ford's character is a man of law and Wayne's is lawless, both men come to find that living among the peaceable is no easy task.

In 1947, John Wayne's star was shining brightly enough that he decided to take his first stab at producing a film. 'Angel and the Badman' was the result. Although it doesn't rank up there with 'The Searchers,' 'True Grit' or 'Rio Bravo' as a great Wayne movie, it is a competent piece of filmmaking set among the picturesque buttes of Monument Valley, Arizona. Four decades before Harrison Ford portrayed a hardened man thrust into a pacifist world in 'Witness,' John Wayne played a similar role in 'Angel and the Badman.' Yet while Ford's character is a man of law and Wayne's is lawless, both men come to find that living among the peaceable is no easy task.

In 1947, John Wayne's star was shining brightly enough that he decided to take his first stab at producing a film. 'Angel and the Badman' was the result. Although it doesn't rank up there with 'The Searchers,' 'True Grit' or 'Rio Bravo' as a great Wayne movie, it is a competent piece of filmmaking set among the picturesque buttes of Monument Valley, Arizona.

Wayne plays Quirt Evans, a rough and tumble sort with a violent past who drops in (literally) on a Quaker family after riding untold miles with a bullet in him. As the family's beautiful daughter Penelope nurses Evans back to health she begins to fall for the tall, handsome stranger.

Yet as soon as Evans is well enough to get out of bed, Laredo Stevens (frequent Wayne co-star Bruce Cabot) and his henchmen -- the men who put the bullet in him -- catch up to their target. Deftly avoiding a serious confrontation, Quirt remains with his Quaker hosts and begins to take to them as their unconditional love and acceptance slowly softens his hard heart.

Of course Quirt's troubled past will rear up again, putting the family and especially Penny, with whom he's now fallen for, in peril. In the end Quirt must choose between the pacifist ways of the Quakers and his own violent history as he finds himself faced with a life or death decision.

'Angle and the Badman' is an interesting choice for Wayne's first self-produced film. Its pro anti-violence message stands in sharp contrast with both his carefully crafted onscreen persona of a 'shoot first, ask questions later' kind of guy and his real-life hard line conservatism. Still, the theme of doing the right thing, no matter the cost, figures as strongly in 'Angel' as in any of his more gung-ho shoot-'em-ups.

The film would be remade 62 years later with Lou Diamond Phillips in the Wayne role and Luke Perry playing Laredo.

Watch 'Angel and the Badman' on SlashControl!
CATEGORIES Video