The charms of DVD sometimes passeth understanding. Vengeance Valley is an 83-minute B Western directed (barely) by the dullest of MGM hacks, Richard Thorpe, and based on one of the genre's hoariest formulas--the bad nat... more »ural son (Robert Walker), the good foster son (Burt Lancaster), and the range empire they respectively imperil and rescue. Everyone on board was marking time: Walker, who otherwise spent 1951 playing Bruno Anthony in Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, and who would be dead within the year; Lancaster, whose glum performance hints at neither the gusto of his early-'50s swashbucklers nor the fact that he would soon be collecting Oscar nominations; Joanne Dru (playing Walker's recent bride), who only a year earlier was working for John Ford; and screenwriter Irving Ravetch, who would draw a much more auspicious ranch-land assignment a decade later with Hud (1963). No, we can't make exalted claims for Vengeance Valley--but that's just the point: this is an absolutely typical slice of moviegoing life in 1951, and watching this DVD is as uncanny as a trip in a time machine. The aura is perfected by the true three-strip Technicolor print, not a latterday Eastmancolor approximation of the real thing. Throw in a supporting cast of such sagebrush perennials as John Ireland, Will Wright, Glenn Strange, Jim Hayward, and TV's Wyatt Earp-to-be, Hugh O'Brian, and you've got a quintessential Saturday at the Bijou. Now if only the great color films of the period could all look this good.... -- Richard T. Jameson« less
""Vengeance Valley" (1951) is not just a great title for a western, but a well-made, intelligent feature that should please Burt Lancaster and Robert Walker fans. A cattle baron (Ray Collins) takes in an orphaned boy (Owen Daybright) and raises him. His own son (Lee Strobie) is about the same age. Although Lee resents Owen they generally get along and share a lot of coming of age adventures on the ranch. But as they mature Lee's (Robert Walker) resentment causes him to become a slacker and the classic prodigal son. After a long absence he returns with a wife, appears to have cleaned up his act, and reconciles with his father.
But Lee's past includes a girl named Lily that he got pregnant. Owen covers for him, but this causes Lee to resent his stepbrother even more. When he suspects that his father's ranch and his new wife are slipping away from him, he sets up Owen to be killed by Lily's two brothers. Although this prodigal son-Cain and Abel stuff is hardly original, the two stars are excellent in their respective parts. Lancaster reins in his excesses and gives a nice controlled performance, with his suppressed energy just visible enough to give Owen a nice dimensionality.
Walker in convincing as a two-faced villain, still motivated by childhood jealousy but able to conceal it from everyone but the audience. Walker is relatively forgotten today, but was the 1940's version of James Dean; although his looks and style are more like a young Robert Vaughn.
When not occupied with its melodramatic story, "Vengeance Valley" has the look of an extremely well-produced documentary, going into great detail about the process of a spring roundup and providing a lot of very scenic backgrounds. A ranch hand named Hewie (Carleton Carpenter) provides an informative voice-over. The film features some great cattle scenes, a lot of good riding sequences, and a couple well staged fights. Watch for an early appearance by young Hugh O'Brian-just a few years away from starring in television's "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp".
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child."
OK Western, poor quality tape
Foramdude | New York, USA | 02/24/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased Front Row Entertainment's VHS version of "Vengeance Valley" and was bitterly disappointed. The video quality is poor and the sound track is no better. The story, from what I could make of it, is humdrum. If you're a Lancaster fan, however, the movie is worth having in your collection. And if you're a fan of wasting 20 bucks on a poor quality video, this is a tape for you!"
"Maybe its just bad luck on my part, but I ordered this dvd twice and approximately at the 46 minute mark, both dvd had the picture break up for approximately 2 minutes. I'm talking about the one produced by Roan."
Fast riding, shooting and cattle round-ups!
Roberto Frangie | Leon, Gto. Mexico | 02/12/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Robert Walker is a filthy villain, cast as a cattle baron's worthless son... Despite the presence of an attractive wife, the young boy favors an illegitimate son by a local waitress, then changes the blame upon his step-brother...
As the ranch foreman who rallies to Walker's aid, Lancaster makes a strongly convincing hero...
Joanne Dru played leads in a variety of films of the 40s and 50s but is best remembered as the feminine touch in Western Classics as Howard Hawks's "Red River," John Ford's "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," and "Wagon Master."
Set in the range country of the Rockies, Richard Thorpe balances the 'scandalous secret' with fast riding, shooting and cattle round-ups..."