UPON FURTHER REVIEW: “Ride Beyond Vengeance” by Brad Eastland, the Dr. of Ancient Filmology

June 21, 2010
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 I just absolutely love “B” movies.

      Seriously.   And assuming we define a “B” movie as a movie with a very low budget, perhaps without a lot of star power, and possibly featuring some of the cheesiest dialogue and acting you are ever likely to see, it is amazing how these cheap little films which are so definitively bad can wind up being so astoundingly good.   Another wonderful tenet of a great “B” movie is that it should be a movie that practically only you yourself have ever heard of—I mean what good is having a favorite “B” movie if everyone is in on the secret?   In any case, when a great “B” movie shows up on the tube it is truly one of the indispensible delicacies of life.  

      And the key to making any “B” movie great is its having that absolutely required quality of, what I call, “repeat watch-ability”.   Are you like me in this regard?   When one of my top-20 B’s shows up I almost always drop everything to bask in it.   I’ve seen several of my top-20 B’s at least twenty, thirty, even forty times.   That’s what comes from being old.

      I’m going to share one of my favorite best-kept-B-secrets with you right now, because….I don’t know, because I’m such a kind and generous guy.   It is definitely one of my top-20 B’s.   I know this because I made a list of my top-20 once.   It’s a great little movie.   Saw it just the other day.   Oddly enough, I haven’t seen it thirty or forty times yet, maybe only three or four so far, but I guess if I live long enough that’ll take care of itself.

       The title just reaches out and grabs you.     

      Ride Beyond Vengeance”.

      What a delightful, digestible, watch-able little gem!   Considering that it’s just a little formula Western made in 1965, with a budget of barely a half-million bucks, I guess “Ride Beyond Vengeance” got lucky because it’s got something, I don’t know what but it has definitely got something.   Because it works.   Some films work, some don’t, and this one just does.

      It stars the great Chuck Connors.   Well at least I think he’s great.   As the title character of the legendary 50s & 60s TV show “The Rifleman”, the square-jawed, six-foot-five Connors became not only one of my favorite actors, but emerged as one of the genuine heroes of my youth.     In case you’re interested, here’s a pretty fair little piece I wrote on ol’ Chuck a couple years ago for another newspaper:  http://mtnviewsnews.com/v02/htm/n08/sports.htm

      In “Ride Beyond Vengeance” Chuck plays a buffalo hunter who goes off to seek his fortune, to prove himself worthy of his worthless, prissy, social-climber wife.   He returns to his home town a decade later with his saddlebags loaded down with cash, but before he can get the money safely buried or securely into a bank he is accosted on the outskirts of town by three men.   Who proceed to rob him.   Worse yet they also brand him, with a hot iron.   On his chest.   Just to be mean.

      That’s all I’m gonna tell you. 

      But what I did want to share with you (or rather what I finally figured out) is it dawned on me that perhaps the reason “Ride Beyond Vengeance” works so well is that what it lacks in big-screen star power it more than makes up for in small-screen watch-ability.   Because no less than all of the thirteen primary characters in this movie were played by actors who all, repeat ALL, had starring, prominent, ongoing roles in a major TV series.

      I realize that this defies all odds.   But it’s true.   Every one of these thirteen actors and actresses starred or shined, at some point in their careers, in a very famous and prominent television series.   And I think that that’s why this movie works so well; it is chocked full of lots of good, talented people who we all know and are used to watching getting together to craft a cool little “B” movie.  

      Here’s the list:

CHUCK CONNORS……….. “The Rifleman

PAUL FIX………………………. also “The Rifleman”, as Marshal Micah Torrance

BILL BIXBY……………………..Bixby starred in no less than three famous series, “The Courtship of Eddie’s father, “My Favorite Martian” and “The Incredible Hulk”

FRANK GORSHIN…………..You should remember him as The Riddler in “Batman

ARTHUR O’CONNELL…….“The Second Hundred Years

MICHAEL RENNIE…………. “The Third Man” (playing Harry Lime, played previously on the big screen by Orson Welles)

KATHRYN HAYS……………..“As The World Turns”, for almost 40 years now, and counting….

RUTH WARRICK…………….she was the legendary Phoebe Tyler in “All My Children

CLAUDE AKINS………………he was Sheriff Lobo in “B.J. and the Bear

GARY MERRILL………………“Young Dr. Kildare” and “Then Came Bronson

JAMES MacARTHUR………will live forever as Steve McGarrett’s sidekick Dan “Danno” Williams in “Hawaii Five-O”.   (“Book him, Danno!   Murder one.”)

JOAN BLONDELL…………….“Here Come The Brides

JAMIE FARR……………………last but not least, the irrepressible Corporal Klinger from “M*A*S*H


      How many did you recognize right off?

     Anyway, it’s a great little movie, and I give it my two thumbs up 5-star unequivocal Dr. of Ancient Filmology recommendation.   Just to whet your appetite, click this link to watch the introductory trailer, featuring the title song sung by the legendary folk singer Glenn Yarbrough.   http://www.amazon.com/Ride-Beyond-Vengeance/dp/B002CMQSE6/ref=pd_vodsm_B002CMQSE6

      If that doesn’t make you want to go on-line and pick up a DVD of this B classic, nothing will.

      I’ll leave you on this note.   Any of you who, like me, grew up watching “The Rifleman” were awed by the raw power and seething anger Chuck Connors brought to the screen.   When he hit you you stayed hit, when he shot you you stayed dead.   It makes you wonder what kind of idiot would take a branding iron to such a man.   Without giving away the ending, let’s just say those three idiots in “Ride Beyond Vengeance” deserved what they got.


Brad Eastland, our “Dr. of Ancient Filmology”, is a movie buff and film historian, as long as the film was made before 1985 or so.  (If you want to hear about new-release films, ask somebody else!).   Special effects and gratuitous anything have no place in his celluloid world.   Primarily a fiction writer, Brad has written four novels and over 20 short-stories.  Here are some samples of his best work:






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