Former dance hall girl Lorna, masquerading as a lady, meets and marries Confederate ex-officer Colt Saunders, returning to his rich Texas ranch. Everyone there is enchanted with Lorna. But the carpetbag government is set to grab all the big ranches, unless the ranchers (led by Colt) decide to fight. And one of the carpetbaggers knows Lorna's secret.
Charlton Heston ... Capt. Colt Saunders
Anne Baxter ... Lorna Hunter Saunders
Gilbert Roland ... Innocencio Ortega, Grand Vacaro
Tom Tryon ... Beauregard 'Cinch' Saunders
Forrest Tucker ... Deputy Commissioner Cable
Bruce Bennett ... Commissioner Harrison
Elaine Stritch ... Ruby LaSalle
Barton MacLane ... Yates
Peter Hansen ... Lt. Marr
John Harmon ... Mr. Massey
Ross Bagdasarian ... Asuncion Ortega
Robert Blake ... Rafael Ortega (as Bobby Blake)
Jamie Farr ... Pedro Ortega (as Jameel Farah)
Leo Castillo ... Luis Ortega
At the time of its release, "Three Violent People" attracted little notice. Most critics probably labeled it "routine" and then turned their attention to other matters. Now, in this age of decline in film quality, we can look back and be impressed by things we once took for granted: a strong, consistent, logically-developed plot; characters that have some style and substance; dialog which consists of more than merely "Watch it!" and "Move over!"
Not that "Three Violent People" is some sort of undiscovered gem. By the standards of its day it was little more than a passable western with a better than average cast and lovely color photography, but what pleasure it now brings!
Charlton Heston and Anne Baxter, (re-united from "The Ten Commandments"), make an attractive couple. He's strong and stalwart, she looks good in her elaborate costumes. (However did she fit those dresses into a trunk to carry on a stagecoach?) Tom Tryon may not seem fraternally related to Heston but he adds his usual dash of smoldering sensuality. He even manages to do a bare-chest scene even though he plays a man who's lost his right arm! (But then, Tryon usually managed to provide some "beefcake," even in a Disney comedy such as "Moon Pilot.") Also worth noting are three of Gilbert Roland's sons: Jamie ("MASH") Farr, Robert ("In Cold Blood") Blake, and Ross Bagdasarian, who later scored a hit with his Christmas song featuring Alvin and the Chipmunks.
One final point, if Heston and Tryon are two of the "Violent People" of the title, then who is the third? Anne Baxter? She may be deceitful and manipulative, but "violent" doesn't seem like an apt adjective to describe her.
This was the film Charlton Heston made immediately after The Ten Commandments and the last one on his original contract with Paramount Studios. For a co-star for Three Violent People, Heston got Anne Baxter who was Nefretiri in the DeMille epic.
Heston plays Colt Saunders, Confederate veteran who is trying to get back and re-start his ranch and keep it from the hands of carpetbaggers in from the north. He's got a one armed brother played by Tom Tryon who has issues to say the least. Tryon did not lose the arm in the Civil War, it was lost in an accident during childhood and Heston was the one who amputated it.
And if that's not enough Heston meets and marries Baxter without knowing anything about her. She's got a very shady past that comes out at a most inopportune time and drives a wedge between them.
There's a lot of the righteousness of Moses in Heston's Colt Saunders. Unlike in The Ten Commandments it's not a welcome virtue for Anne Baxter or for the audience.
Bruce Bennett and Forrest Tucker play a real pair of bottom feeding carpetbagger officials. And the always enjoyable Gilbert Roland plays the grand vaquero, foreman, of the Saunders spread.
Not a bad western, western and Heston fans will like it.
Charlton Heston made two good westerns: "The Big Country" and "Three Violent People". "Three Violent People" will show you a rousing good time. It is about a former-Confederate soldier (Charlton Heston) married to a southern belle who is hiding her former job as a saloon girl (Anne Baxter). When the husband finds out, he loses interest in his wife. Then the soldier's brother (Tom Tyron) takes over.
This is Anne Baxter's best western. I think it is her only western. Tom Tryon made two more good movies: "The Cardinal" and "In Harm's Way"; then he retired in 1971 and became a successful novelist. You will notice Hollywood's best supporting actors in this movie.
* Produced immediately after Charlton Heston completed The Ten Commandments (1956) and reunited him with co-star Anne Baxter. This was Heston's last film under his original Paramount contract. He felt that Tom Tryon, who was cast as his brother, was not right for the part. However, because "The Ten Commandments" had not yet been released, Heston hadn't yet achieved the star clout necessary to demand cast changes.