Former circus acrobat, Marshall Fields salesman andsinging waiter Burt Lancaster was 38 when he made his 12th film, “VengeanceValley,” showing Saturday, June 30 at downtown Peoria’s nonprofit Apollo Theater.It was the first western for the four-time Oscar-nominated actor, who went onto make such memorable westerns as “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral,” “Apache” and “Valdezis Coming.”
“Vengeance Valley” stars Lancaster and RobertWalker as cowboys raised as brothers by a cattle baron. Walker’s the biologicalson, who comes to resent his adopted brother (Lancaster). Combing action anddrama, the plot turns on Walker’s character framing his stepbrother forfathering an illegitimate child – who is actually his. Greed fuels the hatred,since the scandal may be an opportunity to eliminate his half-brother to takecontrol of their father’s empire.
The tone of mixing outdoors adventure andmelodramatic situations is set in the narrator’s opening lines: “I got a storyto tell, a yarn about cow country, cow punchers and men. I was working for theStrobie Ranch, a trade of worn leather and saddle blisters and branding irons –a trade with some song, some fun and some luck. It was as good a job as a mancould ask for…”
The supporting cast is excellent, with Joanne Druand Sally Forrest as strong women, and Hugh O’Brian and John Ireland as angrybrothers of the wronged woman. Also featured are Ray Collins, Will Wright andGlenn Strange.
Show times at the Apollo are at 7 p.m. Donationsare $5 and $4 for kids, students and seniors. For details call (309) 673-4343.