Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Robbers' Roost (1955)


One of the things that continues to amaze me about westerns from the 1950s is that, despite the fact that hundreds (if not more) of them were made during the decade, each one feels unique and special with a different focus, tone, and style. Even westerns that star the same actors and film in the same locations manage to retain an individuality that never fails to impress me. Robbers' Roost is another solid entry that helps to make the case that the fifties were the pinnacle of westerns on film. Furthermore, this movie comes from 1955, a year that I maintain is a very special one for movie fans. In fact, I wrote a ten-part series about the movies of 1955 over at F This Movie, highlighting how the films from that year represent a change in complexity and a deeper focus on more realistic characters.

Consider George Montgomery in Robbers' Roost. The actor plays our lead here, and we're introduced to him at the beginning of the movie when he walks in on a gang in a saloon. Nothing about his discovery of this gang seems to be an accident. On the contrary, he's apparently been looking for these men. However, we're not sure if our lead is a good guy or a bad guy. He has every appearance of being an outlaw or a drifter, and we're not clued in on his motivations until the very end of the movie. That tone provides a new level of ambiguity to cinematic storytelling that had only been seen in the likes of noir films, and it paved the way for totally gray characters we'd get in movies like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It's no secret that the Italian spaghetti western directors of the 1960s drew their influence from the American westerns of the 1950s.