Reagan in the Frame

Ronald Reagan in Law and Order (1953)

Legendary lawman Frame Johnson (Ronald Reagan) comes to the realisation that having cleaned up Tombstone he wants to retire his badge and settle down to a quieter life as a rancher. Girlfriend Jeannie (Dorothy Malone) couldn't be happier as she too has longer to leave the trouble of running the saloon she inherited behind but refused to marry Frame until he retired. Along with his brothers and friend Denver (Chubby Johnson) they relocate to Cottonwood but find trouble there in the form of Kurt Durning (Preston Foster) who ever since being crippled by Frame in a previous encounter has sought revenge. When one of Frame's brothers gets killed by one of Durning's sons after taking up the role of Marshal it forces Frame to once again take on the role of lawman.

Yes "Law and Order" is that straight forwards, a former lawman seeking a peaceful retirement, turning down work as a lawman finding there is no escape from the enemies he has made and for the sake of those he cares for has to turn lawman again. I would need more than all my fingers and thumbs to count up the number of westerns I have watched which use that same storyline or a slight variation on it but do you know what, when a storyline works it works. That is the thing about "Law and Order" it works and has a nice Saturday cowboy movie matinee feel about it, easy to watch, easy to follow and with just enough action to make it entertaining.

Dorothy Malone in Law and Order (1953)

Of course there is always the elephant in the room and that is in this case "Law and Order" being a Ronald Reagan movie. Say what you like about Reagan as an actor but when he appeared in westerns he was very much in his comfort zone with his natural charisma and likeable nature coming in to play as the archetype hard working good guy. And that is what you get from Ronald Reagan here a nice performance as a likeable guy, not overly powerful or memorable but solid. And all those around him from Preston Foster giving us bad guy to Chubby Johnson bringing comic relief it is all solid if forgettable for being ordinary.

What this all boils down to is that "Law and Order" is a nice little western for those who enjoy the genre, especially those of the 1950s. But beyond it starring a future US president it has nothing about it which makes it any better or worse than any other western of the period.

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