Hayden's Fishing for Trouble
Wealthy business man Ed McNeil (Sebastian Cabot) knows that there is oil on the land belonging to the various ranchers surrounding Prairie City which is why he has hired gunman Johnny Crale (Nedrick Young) to do his dirty work starting with former fisherman Sven Hansen (Ted Stanhope) who refuses to be intimidated by McNeil and the various men he has in his pocket. But Hansen is murdered and when his son George (Sterling Hayden) shows up to work with his father he quickly discovers that no one is going to talk when it comes to what happened to his father.
Let me say right now that the best parts of "Terror in a Texas Town" are unfortunately the parts which I can't talk about as they would spoil this movie. Unfortunately because of that "Terror in a Texas Town" sounds like just another run of the mill wealthy man using a hired gun to bully ranchers off of their land and then a son shows up to get revenge. But there is more to it than that with some character changes which makes it end up much more interesting than you might first think.
In truth when "Terror in a Texas Town" starts two things are going to strike you, one is what an unusual sight it is to see Sterling Hayden walking down a western street with a whaling spear in his hands. The other is that this 1958 western starts with a scene close to the end of the movie and then we go to the beginning and get the back story as to why Hayden as George Hansen is in cowboy country with a whaling spear. These two things, even now over 50 years later, certainly help to spike your curiosity.
Something else will certainly strike you as you watch "Terror in a Texas Town" as this has a bit of a low budget feel to it yet directed by someone who certainly had a vision for the movie. What that means is that we get some very interesting camera work with pans and close ups which kind of give this an artistic feel whilst we get a soundtrack which certainly doesn't always feel like it belongs in a western. It almost feels like director Joseph H. Lewis was given certain things from the cast to the music and told to make it work which he kind of does even if at times it feels a little random.
What this all boils down to is that despite its seemingly ordinary premise "Terror in a Texas Town" is certainly worth a watch. But it is a western which not only has a certain low budget feel but also a kind of experimental artistic one which makes it feel a bit random at times.