James Cagney in Run for Cover (1955)

Cagney's Town

Since the last train robbery the drivers and the people of the town have been on edge and so when Matt Dow (James Cagney) and Davey Bishop (John Derek) get mistaken as train robbers they find themselves being shot at by the sheriff and a lynching party. Fortunately Dow is able to clear his name and the locals decide they want him to become sheriff which he agrees to having fallen for Helga Swenson (Viveca Lindfors). But it turns out Davey may not be what he seems.

"Run for Cover" is one of those westerns which when you look at who was involved you get what you expect. As such director Nicholas Ray brings a nice touch of colour and depth to the visuals which make it a rich and beautiful western which constantly grabs your attention because of the visuals. Then you have James Cagney, making his first western, but bringing that big, tough performance from you always got from him. And he forces this home with I reckon everyone in this western being taller than him yet he is the toughest, biggest character in the movie. And in the supporting cast are various familiar faces such as Ray Teal and Ernest Borgnine who deliver those solid sorts of performances which entertain but are not memorable.

And that is kind of the problem with "Run for Cover" as whilst the directing and acting is good the storyline is very much play it by numbers as we watch Matt settle down in the town, become a father style figure to Davey whilst falling for Helga. I won't go in to detail as to what exactly happens but I will say that there is trouble and Matt has to deal with the locals become angry and ready to lynch someone again. He also has to deal with Davey not being the man he thought he was.

What this all boils down to is that "Run for Cover" is certainly an entertaining western with plenty of decent acting thanks to James Cagney whilst it is also rich in visual detail. But unfortunately when it comes to the storyline and events it is all pretty routine and as such forgettable.