Friday, May 13, 2011

Yuma (the TV movie)

Broadcast in 1971, Yuma turned out to be a TV movie and not a feature film, which I didn't know until I started watching it. The plot is interesting and Clint Walker is the star. Rudy Diaz, who played minor roles in three Alias Smith and Jones episodes (a guard in The McCreedy Bust, the first policeman in Miracle at Santa Marta, and a man in The McCreedy Feud) has a small role in this movie.

A solitary man (Walker) rides into Yuma on a horse, leading a burro. He pulls up in front of the sheriff's office and before he finishes tying his horse's reins to the hitching rail, a stagecoach careens into town, two men atop it firing their guns. When the coach tips over and the men go inside the nearby saloon, the other man grabs his rifle and follows, pinning on a marshal's badge as he goes. An altercation ensues and at the end of it, a man is dead. Unfortunately, that man is the brother of a powerful trail boss who brings a lot of money into the town. So far, Yuma is all about bringing law and order to the town.

Meanwhile, a young Mexican boy, all alone in Yuma, meets the marshal when he gets caught burgling his hotel room. However, the marshal lets him go and after he witnesses the boy trying to steal some food, he befriends him and gives him a job sweeping the lawman's office. This subplot of Yuma made me think of what life might have been like for Han and Jed after they left Valparaiso and were trying to make it on their own before becoming outlaws with the Devil's Hole Gang.

But there is more to Yuma: The marshal is framed for murder, Indians are being short-changed on their cattle rations, and of course there is a romance with the lady owner of the hotel. Most of the movie deals with the marshal trying to clear his name and avoiding being killed by the trail boss who wants to avenge the death of his brother.

Filmed at Old Tucson Studios, which is immediately recognizable to anyone who has been there, and at Paramount, Yuma is light and diverting and at 73 minutes, an enjoyable way to spend part of an afternoon or evening.