Ride, Vaquero! (1953) Review

Director: John Farrow

Genre(s): Western

Runtime: 90 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

IMDb Page

Ride, Vaquero! is a pretty typical western for the time period. It’s in color and it looks like it had a reasonable budget, but it doesn’t really add up to anything particularly memorable. The story’s about rancher King Cameron (Howard Keel) who decides to stand up to bandit warlord José Esqueda (Anthony Quinn) and his enforcer Rio (Robert Taylor). I don’t think that I have to tell you that a violent confrontation between Cameron and Esqueda is inevitable.

The best thing about Ride, Vaquero! is its talented cast. Anthony Quinn may not get top billing, but this is definitely his show. His performance is just so much more animated that those of his co-stars. Robert Taylor’s pretty stoic, but he’s a bit of a bad guy here, which is different from your typical role for him. Ava Gardner, as Cordelia Cameron, isn’t given anything to do. Jack Elam shows up as henchman Barton, but his role doesn’t really come into play until towards the end of the runtime.

This western is one of those films that promises big action, but doesn’t deliver. Did the budget run out or something? There’s a reasonable shootout at a ranch with one party attacking on horseback and the other defending, but that’s just about as good as it gets. The grand finale could be considered a damp squib on the action front. It does have a scene where a villain tortures another character by shooting him a few times in non-fatal regions of his body, which was unexpected, but, by that point, does anybody care?

There’s not much else to report about Ride, Vaquero!. I’ve seen more forgettable westerns, but don’t take that as a compliment. Anyway, it’s acceptable entertainment for fans of Anthony Quinn and Robert Taylor, but those interested in Ava Gardner and Jack Elam’s roles will be left empty-handed. Those looking for intense action will be less than thrilled. The audience for this one is elderly people who want squeaky-clean, old-timey westerns with no swearing, nudity, or graphic violence.

My rating is 6 outta 10.

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