Lawless Breed, The (1952)

Lawless Breed, The (1952)

“I never killed a man except in self-defense.”

The gambling son (Rock Hudson) of a preacher (John McIntire) kills a man (Michael Ansara) in self-defense and is hunted down by the dead man’s vengeful brothers (Hugh O’Brian, Lee Van Cleef, and Glenn Strange); meanwhile, Hudson tries to earn money to marry his sweetheart (Mary Castle), while a beautiful barmaid (Julie Adams) pines for John (Hudson) despite knowing he’s in love with Jane (Castle).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ex-Cons
  • Falsely Accused
  • Flashback Films
  • John McIntire Films
  • Julie Adams Films
  • Lee Van Cleef Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Raoul Walsh Films
  • Rock Hudson Films
  • Westerns

Based on a highly romanticized memoir by real-life gunman John Westley Hardin, this Technicolor western — directed by Raoul Walsh — is notable for featuring Rock Hudson in his first starring role, and for reuniting Hudson with Julie Adams of Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954) fame after they co-starred in Anthony Mann’s Bend of the River (1952) and Budd Boetticher’s (non-GFTFF-listed) Horizons West (1952).

Unfortunately, there’s not much else to recommend about this movie, given that the storyline is pure hokum clearly drummed up by a man intending to whitewash his own murderous past. We get a brief sense of this through his fiancee (Castle), who rightfully calls him out on his desire for violence:

“You’ll never stop killing… You’re not afraid of anyone, so long as you have a gun. So long as you can kill! … You’ll always have to prove you’re not afraid. You’ll always have to kill to prove it. How do you feel when you kill? Do you feel bad — or do you feel good?”

Meanwhile, the storyline’s rather improbable ending — involving Hudson’s grown son (Race Gentry) — attempts to close the loop on this tentative theme; but none of it is robust enough to turn this into a truly compelling story.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some effectively filmed moments

Must See?
No; you can skip this one unless you’re a Walsh or Hudson completist.


One thought on “Lawless Breed, The (1952)

  1. Not must-see.

    Standard, rarely mentioned western, with plenty of Hollywood-esque dialogue. To a degree, it has the benefit of director Walsh’s economic flair but it never rises to being more than mildly engaging.

    ‘Race Gentry’?! Seriously?! That smacks of another star-making ‘brainstorm’ by the same talent scout who created ‘Rock Hudson’: Henry Willson.

    At least it’s short: 83 minutes.

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