Tension at Table Rock (1956): Western Starring Richard Egan and Dorothy Malone

Directed by Charles Marquis Warren, Tension at Table Rock is a well shot (by Joseph Biroc) but thematically conventional Western.

Penned by Winston Miller and Frank Gruber, based on the latter’s book, the film stars stars Richard Egan and Dorothy Malone in crucial years of their respective careers.¬† Egan appeared in Elvis Presley’s first film, Love Me Tender, and Malone won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in Douglas Sirk’s popular melodrama, Written on the Wind.

After killing a man thought to be his friend, Wes Tancred (Richard Egan) is assaulted and mentioned in a song about a man shooting his buddy in the back.

Wes leaves town and winds up working as a hostler at a Stagecoach Outpost. He adopts an alias and befriends the father and son who run the outpost.

Three outlaws plan to rob the stagecoach when it arrives, and the father is killed. Wes kills them and takes the boy to live with his aunt and uncle, who is the Sheriff in Table Rock.

A reckless band of herders, running a cattle drive, come to town with revelry and kill a sodbuster.

In court there is testimony that the murder was self-defense, of which both Sheriff and Wes are aware. However, the Sheriff states in his report, that it was self-defense. He revises his report when Wes challenges him to overcome his fear.

Wes shoots down a hired gun who comes to town to kill the Sheriff and the Sheriff, in turn, shoots the man who hires the gunman.