Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Western Movie: Return to Warbow

“Return to Warbow” is one of the better, budget Westerns turned out by Hollywood in the 1950s.

Clay Hollister, a prisoner for eleven years at Yuma for robbing a stagecoach, is on a work detail outside the walls when he coordinates a violent escape. He and two others use their picks and shovels on the guards, steal the work wagon and drive the team of horses nearly to death in their getaway.

The men head for the town of Warbow where Clay plans to meet his brother, Frank, who was in on the robbery, got away and promised to hold the loot until Clay returned. Clay and his tough, untrustworthy gang make their way to the home of Clay’s former love. She is now married to the owner of the stage outfit, whom Clay will force to go fetch his brother. When the brother, now a drunk, learns Clay has escaped, he is terrified.

The prison notifies the sheriff of Warbow of Clay’s escape. The sheriff forms a posse and they comb the area for the gang. Complicating matters, Clay can barely control the two men he brought with him who have no regard for anyone but themselves and are a danger to the woman and her young son.

This 67-minute, Technicolor movie from 1958, has enough action, violence, twists and turns for a full-length feature. It moves along at a nice pace.

Clay is played by Phil Carey, an actor who appeared in many films and television shows from the early 1950s through the 1970s. The owner of the stage line is played by Andrew Duggan, another actor who shows up in supporting roles in movies and TV. Carey, listed on the IMDb as 6-foot-4, and Duggan at 6-foot-5, both close in age, both World War II vets, are well-matched as rivals. Robert J. Wilke, another big guy, 6-2, made a career of playing hard-bitten bad men, and here he is the member of the gang Clay has the most to worry about. Clay’s love interest is played by Catherine McLeod, and her son by Christopher Olsen, one of the better child actors. Clay’s brother Frank is played by James Griffith, a good character actor of the day. And, in a small role, Jay Silverheels, best remembered as Tonto in “The Lone Ranger” series, plays a former stage employee who was blinded in Clay’s hold up.

“Return to Warbow” was written by Les Savage, Jr., based on his novel. It was directed by Ray Nazarro, a man who made dozens of Westerns in the 1940s and 1950s.

(For more posts on film and TV, check out Todd Mason’s blog.)


  1. Another one to keep an eye on TCM for!

    1. To misquote someone I read on-line: Westerns are often crime stories with cowboys.

  2. Never seen this but I like these short, sparse programmers. I think a director like Nazarro was well suited to this kind of fare and could usually be depended on to do solid, competent work.