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Film / Terror in a Texas Town

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Terror in a Texas Town is a 1958 American Western film directed by Joseph Lewis and starring Sterling Hayden.

George Hanson is an honest, hardworking whaler, who returns to his Texas hometown after 20 years at sea. Hearing the tragic news of his father's death two days earlier, George finds little support from the local sheriff. Investigating on his own, George uncovers an evil conspiracy that involves McNeil, an oil speculator, who had his father killed over a land sale gone wrong.

Probably the only Western to feature a Showdown at High Noon between a six gun and a harpoon.

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Tropes used in Terror in a Texas Town include:

  • Artificial Limbs: The Gunslinger Johnny Crale had his right hand shot off, and replaced with a steel prosthetic that he uses a bludgeon.
  • Big Eater: McNeil is eating or drinking in every scene he is, and has lobsters and oysters imported from the east coast for his personal delectation.
  • Bullying a Dragon: McNeil makes the mistake of mocking his dragon Johnny Crale while Johnny is in the middle of a Villainous Breakdown. Johnny suddenly decides that he doen't care about McNeil or his money anymore and shoots McNeil.
  • Call to Agriculture: George Hanson wants to take over his father's farm and work the land like his father did. The only trouble is that the oil speculator McNeil wants the land for himself, and will stop at nothing to get it.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Gunslinger Johnny Crale wears black leather gloves. His employer McNeil comments that he never saw Crale wear gloves before and asks why. Crale claims he has a rash and has to keep his hands covered, but the real reason is that he has lost his right hand and had it replaced with a steel prosthesis and is trying to keep it secretly.
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  • The Dragon: Johnny Crale is a gunslinger who serves as McNeil's chief enforcer.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: McNeil's men do this while stampeding the cattle as part of their efforts to drive the farmers of their land.
  • Fat Bastard: The corpulent Mcneil seeks to control all the land in the valley, and uses threats, intimidation and violence to drive the farmers off their land.
  • The Gunslinger: The Dragon Johnny Crale is a Quick Draw, who is trying the fact his right hand has been replaced by a prosthesis; forcing him to draw with his left.
  • Handicapped Badass: McNeil's dragon is The Gunslinger Johnny Crale, who had his right hand shot off and replaced it with a steel prosthesis.
  • The Heavy: The Gunslinger Johnny Crale acts as the Big Bad McNeil's enforcer. He commits all of the dirty acts required so McNeil can keep his hands clean. So while it is McNeil's scheme that drives the plot, it is Crale's acts that put the match to the powder keg.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: In the final fight, Hanson impales Johnny with a harpoon.
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: When Sheriff Stoner finds McNeil's dead body on the floor, he decides the town is getting too hot for him. He gathers up the money on the floor, then takes off the sheriff badge and tosses atop of McNeil's body before hightailing it out of town.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: The climax is a Showdown at High Noon between Johnny armed with sixshooter, and Hanson armed with a harpoon.
  • Javelin Thrower: George Hanson is a whaler, who uses his father's harpoon in a Showdown at High Noon against a gunslinger.
  • Kneel Before Zod: When Johnny Crale goes to murder Mirada, he attempts to make Mirada kneel and beg for his life. Mirada realises that he is going to die regardless of whether he kneels or stands, and chooses to defy Crale and remain standing. Crale shoots him, but Mirada's actions drive him into a Villainous Breakdown, as he has never encountered someone who was not afraid to die.
  • Pistol-Whipping: During the fight in the saloon, Keeno buffaloes Hanson with his revolver.
  • Ready for Lovemaking: After meeting with McNeil, Johnny returns to his room to find Molly waiting for him in his bed. However, the situation soon devolves into an argument.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Sheriff Stoner discovers McNeil's body, he decides that things in Prairie City are about to get unhealthy for him. He grabs all of the money McNeil had dropped and scarpers.
  • Showdown at High Noon: The movie climaxes in a confrontation in the main street between Johnny and Hanson. Johnny is armed with a sixshooter, and Hanson is armed with a harpoon.
  • Shown Their Work: Hanson explains to Pepe that you don't use a harpoon to kill a whale. The harpoon is used to hook the whale. The weapon used to kill it is a lance.
  • Twilight of the Old West: No specific date is given for the movie, but the importance of oil indicates it is probably the early 20th century. The Wild West is coming to an end and multiple characters remark that a gunslinger like Johnny Crale is an anachronism. One man with a gun cannot wander into a town and dominate it anymore, and developments like an organized state police make it harder for outlaws to hide.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Johnny Crale undergoes one after he encounters, for the first time in his life, a man who was unafraid to die.
  • You Killed My Father: George Hanson arrives at his father's farm after 20 years at sea, only to learn that his father had been murdered two days before. Hanson sets out to learn the truth about his father's death and avenge him, and to secure his inheritance of the farm.


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