Man from God's Country (1958)

Randy Stuart and George Montgomery in Man from God's Country (1958)

Beattie and the Bad Beau

You can view "Man from God's Country" two different ways; you can see it as just another 50s western full of cliches or you can see it as a big western crammed into 80 minutes. The reason I say this is because in reality "Man from God's Country" is just another 50s western, the sort which feel like they were knocked out quickly because audiences loved the heroics of a good cowboy. But because it crams in so many well picked cliches it doesn't explore them properly, yet if each one had been fleshed out it would have made for a very decent storyline making it a journey rather than one cliche followed by another.

With the West changing due to the advancement of the railroad and so the job of lawman not being what it was, Dan Beattie (George Montgomery) decides to hand in his Sheriff's badge and leave Yucca for a new life in Sundown where he plans to partner up with former army buddy Curt Warren (House Peters Jr.) and go into ranching. But his arrival in Sundown causes numerous issues as he discovers the town is controlled by corrupt businessman Beau Santee (Frank Wilcox) and Curt has found himself working as a hired heavy.

Susan Cummings and George Montgomery in Man from God's Country (1958)

"Man from God's Country" opens with Sheriff Dan Beattie killing a man who shoots at him first, the only trouble is that the people of Yucca are not happy with Beattie's no compromise methods of law keeping. And this is where the first cliche comes in because the town is divided over its future and whether a railroad should come in bringing new blood and money with it. And it is these people who don't like Beattie ruling by the gun because it will scare people from coming. But as is the case through out the movie it is a cliche which is used but never fully explored quickly culminating with Beattie being cleared of murder but deciding to turn in his badge and head off.

This opening cliche about a town and the development of a railroad returns when Beattie, having ridden with a bunch of cattle herders, reaches his destination of Sundown where he plans to call on an old friend Curt Warren and go into business with him. But this time we have Beau Santee who with his heavies run the town and doesn't want the railroad coming through because it would threaten his grip on things. Yes it is another under explored cliche and when Beattie arrives they are initially suspicious of him thinking he may be from the railroad company and so finds himself being shot at a few times.

Next cliche comes in the fact that Beattie's old friend Curt is working for Santee making things even more complex especially as Curt's son Stoney has little respect for his father and gets a bit of a "Shane" style infatuation when he meets Beattie. All of which boils down to will Beattie help Curt free himself from Santee, deal with Santee and his gang of killers and also make Stoney proud of his father. Throw in a couple of beautiful women and there is at least 5 cliches which build up the storyline to "Man from God's Country" which all work well together but never fully explored.

And sadly the cliche continues because we get cliche action, be it punch ups or gun fights and there looks to be stock footage used when Beattie joins the cattle herders. Plus we have cliche characters from Frank Wilcox's stereotypically corrupt Beau Santee through to James Griffith as evil hired gun Mark. Randy Stuart as manipulative showgirl Nancy Dawson and Susan Cummings as Mary Jo Ellis continue the cliche as does House Peters Jr. as Curt. And unfortunately George Montgomery as Dan Beattie, well you guessed it is a cliche good guy.

What this all boils down to is that "Man from God's Country" is really just another stereotypical 50s western, knocked out purely because audience wanted to watch heroic cowboys. But it is frustrating because the various cliches which the story are built on work really well together and it could have made for a much better western if they had been fleshed out some more.