In BRANDED, Ladd plays Choya, a bandit who poses as the long-lost son of a wealthy Texas rancher. Shamed by the kindness of his new family and attracted to his lovely "sister," Choya vows to right the wrong he's done them. He rides out in search of the real missing heir...and into adventure as big as the western sky.
They don't make 'em like Branded
anymore. Actually, they hardly make 'em at all. Westerns, that is, with their big skies and scenic technicolor vistas, rousing musical scores, cattle and cowpokes, bad guys and prairie damsels, horses and wagons and dust. Branded
has all of that, and a good story, decent acting, and superior writing to go with it. Alan Ladd plays Choya, a morally ambiguous loner (asked if he has any friends or kinfolk, he submits "my guns" and "my horse") and falsely-accused bandit who gets pulled into a "foolproof" million dollar scam that involves impersonating the long-lost son of a rich Texas cattle rancher. Needless to say, complications ensue. The villain (Robert Keith) starts getting antsy; the rancher, Lavery (Charles Bickford), and his wife turn out to be kind, decent folks; Choya takes an interest in his "sister" (Mona Freeman) that goes well beyond fraternal devotion; and his conscience kicks in, too. His ruse revealed, feeling guilt-ridden and seeking redemption, Choya spends the second half of the film on a quest to find the real missing Lavery heir (no easy task, as "Tonio" has been raised by a notorious Mexican outlaw)
and, in the end, to discover that what he really wants and needs is the family he's just betrayed. We all know how it will turn out, of course, but Branded
is a good, wholesome family fare, and a lot of fun to boot. This DVD release contains no bonus features. --Sam Graham