Terror in a Texas Town (1958)

80 mins | Western | 25 August 1958

Director:

Joseph H. Lewis

Producer:

Frank N. Seltzer

Cinematographer:

Ray Rennahan

Production Designer:

William Ferrari

Production Company:

Seltzer Films, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film's working title was Hard as Nails . The scene leading up to the climactic showdown between "George Hansen" and "Johnny Crale" is played before the film's titles. Sheb Wooley is best known for his recording of the novelty song "Purple People Eater." Modern sources add Chuck Roberson and Emory Parnell to the cast. According to modern sources, the film was made in ten days for $80,000.
Although screenwriter Ben L. Perry was given screen credit for the screenplay when the picture was initially released, the film was actually written by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, whose credit was officially restored by the WGA in Sep 2000. According to WGA records, Perry fronted for Trumbo and blacklisted writers John Howard Lawson and Mitch Lindeman on Terror in a Texas Town . Trumbo, who was originally approached by producer Frank N. Seltzer to write the script, was involved in other projects and recommended Lawson and Lindeman, according to a biography of Trumbo. Later, at Seltzer's request, Trumbo rewrote the ... More Less

The film's working title was Hard as Nails . The scene leading up to the climactic showdown between "George Hansen" and "Johnny Crale" is played before the film's titles. Sheb Wooley is best known for his recording of the novelty song "Purple People Eater." Modern sources add Chuck Roberson and Emory Parnell to the cast. According to modern sources, the film was made in ten days for $80,000.
Although screenwriter Ben L. Perry was given screen credit for the screenplay when the picture was initially released, the film was actually written by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, whose credit was officially restored by the WGA in Sep 2000. According to WGA records, Perry fronted for Trumbo and blacklisted writers John Howard Lawson and Mitch Lindeman on Terror in a Texas Town . Trumbo, who was originally approached by producer Frank N. Seltzer to write the script, was involved in other projects and recommended Lawson and Lindeman, according to a biography of Trumbo. Later, at Seltzer's request, Trumbo rewrote the script. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Sep 1958.
---
Daily Variety
20 Aug 58
p. 3.
Film Daily
25 Aug 58
p. 6.
Harrison's Reports
23 Aug 1958.
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Nov 57
p. 6, 13.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 57
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 58
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4-6 Aug 2000.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Aug 58
p. 960.
Variety
20 Aug 58
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff ed
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Hard as Nails
Release Date:
25 August 1958
Production Date:
mid November--late November 1957 at Hal Roach Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Seltzer Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
10 September 1958
Copyright Number:
LP12208
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80
Length(in feet):
7,250
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18924
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After an arson fire destroys a farmer's house and barn, the other farmers meet to discuss efforts by hotel owner McNeil to drive them off their land. Meanwhile, at the hotel in nearby Prairie City, McNeil tells gunfighter Johnny Crale that the farmers are squatters who refuse to leave even though he has offered to pay for the land. McNeil now wants Crale to drive them away. Soon after farmer José Mirada shows his neighbor, Swedish-born Sven Hansen, that there is oil on their land, Crale arrives. Urging Mirada and his son Pepe to hide in a nearby shed, Hansen, armed with a whale harpoon, speaks with Crale. Crale asks him to transfer his land grant to McNeil, and when Hansen refuses, kills him. Mirada intends to tell the others about the oil discovery and Crale's murder of Hansen, but his wife Rosa begs him to remain silent. Some time later, Hansen's son George arrives in Prairie City, but when he asks about transportation to the Hansen farm, Crale reveals that his father has been killed. George, who had gone to sea to help pay for the farm, then asks the sheriff what is being done to catch his father's killer. The sheriff, who is one of McNeil's men, informs George that his father did not own the land, and that he will arrest him if he trespasses on the farm. George agrees to stay in the hotel, but adds that although he is a foreigner, he understands justice and will get it. After George turns down his offer to buy the land, McNeil orders Crale to get rid of him by ... +


After an arson fire destroys a farmer's house and barn, the other farmers meet to discuss efforts by hotel owner McNeil to drive them off their land. Meanwhile, at the hotel in nearby Prairie City, McNeil tells gunfighter Johnny Crale that the farmers are squatters who refuse to leave even though he has offered to pay for the land. McNeil now wants Crale to drive them away. Soon after farmer José Mirada shows his neighbor, Swedish-born Sven Hansen, that there is oil on their land, Crale arrives. Urging Mirada and his son Pepe to hide in a nearby shed, Hansen, armed with a whale harpoon, speaks with Crale. Crale asks him to transfer his land grant to McNeil, and when Hansen refuses, kills him. Mirada intends to tell the others about the oil discovery and Crale's murder of Hansen, but his wife Rosa begs him to remain silent. Some time later, Hansen's son George arrives in Prairie City, but when he asks about transportation to the Hansen farm, Crale reveals that his father has been killed. George, who had gone to sea to help pay for the farm, then asks the sheriff what is being done to catch his father's killer. The sheriff, who is one of McNeil's men, informs George that his father did not own the land, and that he will arrest him if he trespasses on the farm. George agrees to stay in the hotel, but adds that although he is a foreigner, he understands justice and will get it. After George turns down his offer to buy the land, McNeil orders Crale to get rid of him by any means short of murder. Despite the sheriff's warning, George visits the farm and talks to Mirada, who pretends to know nothing. He then gives George his father's harpoon. While they talk, Crale and his men arrive and order the Miradas to leave town. When George wonders why McNeil wants the land, Mirada again keeps silent. Later, in the hotel saloon, George offers a drink to Molly, Crale's wife, and then questions her. Although Molly reveals nothing, Hansen deduces that Crale murdered his father. Moments later, Crale and his men beat George and put him, unconscious, on a train. When George regains consciousness, he struggles back toward town. The Miradas take him in, and this time, Rosa tells him about the oil. After George informs the sheriff that there was a witness to his father's murder, Crale kills Mirada. Believing Crale's work to be done, McNeil pays him, but Crale, who was deeply affected by the courage with which Mirada faced death, turns on McNeil and kills him. When George learns of Mirada's murder, he takes his father's harpoon and heads for a showdown with Crale. Meanwhile, Molly decides to leave Crale. She interrupts a farmers' meeting at the church to tell them that George intends to face Crale with the harpoon as his only weapon. While the farmers watch, Crale shoots and wounds George, but the Swede kills Crale with the harpoon. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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