Flesh and the Spur (1956, directed by Edward L. Cahn)


When farmer Matt Ransom (John Agar) is murdered for his horse and his gun, his twin brother Luke (also John Agar) sets out to get revenge.  He knows that his brother’s murderer was a member of the infamous Checkers Gang.  Because the gun that the killer stole was one of two identical pairs specially made for the twins by their father, Luke knows that all he has to do is find the outlaw who is carrying a gun that looks just like his.  During Luke’s search, he meets several others who have their own reasons for wanting to destroy the Checkers Gang.  Luke teams up with a beautiful Native American woman named Willow (Marla English), a snake oil salesman named Windy (Raymond Hatton), and a mysterious but deadly gunman named Stacy Doggett (Mike “Touch” Connors).

This B-level Western is best known for a scene where a group of rogue Indians tie Willow to an anthill in order to punish her for “traveling” with the white man.  The scene was not originally in the script.  It was added after a poster was designed that featured Willow bound to a stake.  While the scene was undoubtedly enjoyed by the teenage boys who the film was marketed towards, it feels out-of-place in the movie.  Some of the problem is that, while shooting the scene, the ants refused to go anywhere near Marla English and would instead run away whenever they were dropped on English’s feet.  After spending several minutes tied to a stake and having ants poured on her, English said, “Look, you’ve got six ants there.  Isn’t that enough?”  Marla English retired from acting shortly after appearing in this film.

Flesh and the Spur is a B-western through and through but it has a few good moments, like the scene where Luke and Stacy check out a saloon’s gun rack to see if anyone has hung up Matt’s gun.  Touch Connors is convincingly deadly as Stacy and there’s a good twist with his character at the end of the film. Marla English gives such a good performance as Willow that it’s too bad that the ants may have played a part in her early retirement from acting.  Unfortunately, John Agar is just as dull and colourless as always and he was obviously too old to be playing someone like Luke, who is meant to be a naive neophyte.

Flesh and the Spur may not be a classic but there’s enough there to keep western fans entertained.

2 responses to “Flesh and the Spur (1956, directed by Edward L. Cahn)

  1. Pingback: Pier 5, Havana (1959, directed by Edward L. Cahn) | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 8/24/20 — 8/30/20 | Through the Shattered Lens

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