Movie Review: A Lawman is Born (1937)

Synopsis: Accused murderer Tom Mitchell is hiding out in a small western town while working as a clerk at the general store. When the sheriff is murdered, the sheriff's sister (who knows Tom's secret) convinces Tom to take her brother's place. Once elected, he is tasked with preventing a range war between local ranchers while trying to keep a promise of non-violence that was made to the woman he loves.

Who's in it? The movie stars Johnny Mack Brown, Iris Meredith, Mary MacLaren, Dick Curtis and Frank LaRue.

Review: I came across this movie early this morning and, figuring it might be an interesting way to kill some time before heading into the office, decided to give it a try. I wasn't really expecting that much from it, mostly because the plot sounded a bit too simple. However, it ended up being a decent film.

There were a couple things, in particular, I found I liked about this movie. One of the main ones was that non-violence promise he made to his main love interest (Meredith). Considering he was trying to stop a bunch of ranchers from gunning each other down, his own inability to proactively use his guns was a nice twist, especially since the bad guys weren't afraid to use theirs.

The part of him being an outlaw added another interesting twist to the film, especially when his enemies learn about his past and try to use it to their advantage. At minimum, I was curious how the townspeople would feel about him once they learned the truth (and I figured it was only a matter of time). Would they turn on him? Or, did he redeem himself enough in their eyes for them to look the other way? And, I have to admit, the twist at the end did take me a bit by surprise (though it probably shouldn't have).

My only real complaint about the movie is some of the scenes did seem to be a bit repetitive, especially whenever he rode his horse outside of town and, like clockwork, had someone take a shot at him. I feel like the movie could have mixed things up a little bit more in that regard.

I also thought the film could have used a bit of a surprise twist as far as the previous sheriff's (Earle Hodgins) went. It wasn't too hard to guess who pulled the trigger and I was kind of hoping it would be someone unexpected, like maybe the sheriff's sister (MacLaren) killing her brother so the town would be forced to elect someone who would make more of an effort to prevent the expected violence. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, though the movie was still good regardless.

Final Opinion: This is an interesting western that ended up being a bit less predictable than I expected. It's worth taking the time to watch it if you have an opportunity to do so.

My Grade: B


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