Devil's Canyon (1953)

Devil's Canyon (1953)
 
 

A Virginia Dale

Virginia Mayo as Abby Nixon in Devil's Canyon (1953)

When "Devil's Canyon" starts two things grab your attention, a moment of action which sees former Marshal Billy Reynolds jump from a balcony and then Virginia Mayo's gravity defying chest which director Alfred L. Werker exploits as often as possible. But after that "Devil's Canyon" ends up one big let down which does little with the genre crossover of having a prison movie but a western one. And that is a shame because the idea of having all the typical prison elements, from an escape plan to trouble between prisoners but set in the Old West has some possibilities but none of them are ever used.

After killing two men in self defence former Marshal Billy Reynolds (Dale Robertson - Gunfight at Black Horse Canyon) finds himself thrown in Yuma prison where he has to deal with Jessie Gorman (Stephen McNally - The Duel at Silver Creek) who was not only put inside by Billy but is the brother of the men Billy killed. To make matters more complicated Jessie's outlaw girlfriend Abby Nixon (Virginia Mayo - Westbound) gets herself arrested and thrown inside Yuma in order to try and help Jessie escape. But not only is Jessie set on killing Billy but Abby finds herself having feelings for Billy which she is unable to hide.

Dale Robertson and Virginia Mayo in Devil's Canyon (1953)

So yes here we have a western prison movie which you have to accept a lot of things which are not believable most notably that of Abby being put in a prison with 500 sex starved men. And to be honest there are so many things that it asks you to accept that it becomes all a bit of a joke from Abby having freedom rather than being guarded to how certain things are manufactured to happen. It does mean that "Devil's Canyon" ends up a very typical b-movie which relies more on its cast that on anything else to keep people watching.

Now for me that is a shame because as a fan of westerns and prison movies the idea of combining the two sounds like a movie with great potential. Yet "Devil's Canyon" does nothing interesting with this crossover, there is a typical canteen fight, there is a guard who has it in for Billy and of course we have the plot to break out. I say plot but to be honest there isn't one and it is pretty inconsistent almost changing in the blink of an eye as something happens and then something else which contradicts the first thing.

So the end result of this is that "Devil's Canyon" ends up an unimpressive and for the most forgettable western - prison movie crossover. The only thing memorable is Virginia Mayo and sadly it is not because of her character but because firstly she is beautiful and the outfits she gets given to wear play on her sexual appeal, yes the highlight her bust and her bust dominates many a scene. Aside from Mayo there is Dale Robertson as Billy and Stephen McNally as Jessie who during the canteen brawl end up indistinguishable from each other. And just for good measure Arthur Hunnicutt is in there for no other purpose than to give us a bit of a hillbilly.

What this all boils down to is that "Devil's Canyon" is a disappointing waste of a good idea to make a crossover between a western and a prison movie. The only thing memorable about it is Virginia Mayo who thanks to the costume department is competing with her own bust for attention.

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