Before fighting as an officer for the Confederacy, Jim Task, played by Jock Mahoney, was the good sheriff of Abilene, Kansas and a popular figure with the townsfolk. After the civil war ends, Jim returns to his home town of Abilene hoping things would be just the same as they were before he left. This is not the case as Jim learns quickly that everybody thought he was dead and his old friend Dave Moseley, played by Lyle Bettger, has become engaged to his former sweetheart Peggy. As if this isn't enough, the town has undergone many changes with the coming of the railroad and the one-armed cattle tycoon Dave Moseley is now involved in an increasingly volatile feud with the local farmers over the farmland that is being taken for cattle grazing. When the townsfolk get used to him again, Jim is persuaded to take up his old job of sheriff and try to stop the cattle and farmer feud from developing into a full range war. Jim does this but because of an earlier haunting incident in the civil war in which he accidentally killed his friend's brother during the conflict, he initially refuses to wear a gun.
When Showdown at Abilene was released by Universal in 1956 it was billed as the story of the great Abilene range war and the film is true to form as this is the basic theme. The film is well cast and the actors are believable with the possible exception of Ted de Corsia who plays the gunfighter Dan Claudius as some consider him to be too old and unconvincing for the part. This may be a little unfair. At the end of the day, Showdown at Abilene makes great viewing and is an excellent example of the B-movie western with non-stop action. In fact, it was considered to be so good at the time that it was remade in 1967 as Gunfight in Abilene with Bobby Darin, Emily Banks and Leslie Nielsen.
Film and Movie Information
Showdown at Abilene was released by Universal Pictures in 1956 and was directed by Charles Haas. The prncipal stars were Jock Mahoney, Martha Hyer and Lyle Bettger. The movie was filmed in Technicolor at Morrison Ranch, Agoura, California, USA.