The B western meets murder mystery in The Broken Star, a 1956 movie starring Howard Duff and Bill Williams. Set in the second half of the 19th century when things were getting civilized, this MGM Limited Edition on demand DVD tells the story of two sheriff deputies: one investigating a death and the other the murderer. This whodunit oater is quite enjoyable if somewhat stilted. The print used here is very good with only the occasional artifact.
The odd thing about this western DVD is it plays more like a police procedural with one of the deputies being the investigator and the marshal behaving more like a police captain or D.A. The coroner sounds more modern than you would expect and there are other instances of forensics.
A man who collects protection money for the local land baron is murdered by one of the deputies. Deputy Smeed says it was self defense. Deputy Bill Gentry, who has a thing for the victim’s cousin, investigates. There are also two cowboys working for the land baron in the mix as the victim had eight thousand dollars hidden away.
The victim’s Apache assistant saw the whole thing. He goes to the Marshal’s office but nobody there speaks Spanish.
Smeed’s plan, whatever it was, and the movie both start to unravel at this point. The Broken Star is still good enough to keep you watching to the end.