The Inevitable

Fred MacMurray in Day of the Badman (1958)

After being arrested for murder Rudy Hayes (Christopher Dark) waits in jail for the inevitable, to be sentenced to hang by the righteous Judge Jim Scott (Fred MacMurray). But the hanging isn't going ahead if the Hayes' brothers Charlie (Robert Middleton) and Howie (Skip Homier) along with cousins Jake (Lee Van Cleef) and Monte (Chris Alcaide) as well as Rudy's girlfriend Cora (Marie Windsor) have anything to do with it. The presence of the Hayes family in town intimidates the residents who question whether the inevitable showdown and blood shed is worth it for just one man. But Jim is not going to be intimidated and anyway he has Sheriff Wiley (John Ericson) in support, although what Scott doesn't know is that Wiley has been secretly seeing the judge's girl, Myra Owens (Joan Weldon) behind is back.

I've come across a few movies like "Day of the Badman" and I don't mean westerns, I mean movies where the script clearly had potential to be more that the final movie is but ended up in the wrong hands and made as just another genre piece. And "Day of the Badman" certainly has some clear potential as we have the Judge who doesn't wear a gun, the secret goings on of the sheriff with the judge's girl, the town fearing bloodshed as well as the hot blooded nature of the Hayes family as well as Cora. All these elements could have been built upon to turn "Day of the Badman" into one of those rare westerns with character depth and emotional impact.

Skip Homeier in Day of the Badman (1958)

As such what you get in "Day of the Badman" is an ordinary and frankly forgettable walk through the basic western storyline. We have danger, we have the truth coming out and eventually the righteous judge ends up in a showdown because everything in this western borders on the inevitable. About the only thing memorable is an unintentionally funny fight scene between Sheriff Wiley and Howie Hayes and that only stands out because John Ericson and Skip Homier actually look a little alike with the same haircuts and so on making it not always clear who is landing the punches.

What this all boils down to is that "Day of the Badman" is just another western from the late 50s and feels like a movie made by a studio to use up the scripts they had brought knowing that the genre's popularity would mean even an average movie would make a buck. And it is a shame as the script has potential to have been more than just full of the inevitable and forgettable.

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