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CARSON CITY(director: André De Toth; screenwriters: story by Sloan Nibley/ Sloan Nibley/Winston Miller/Eric Jonsson; cinematographer: John Boyle; editor: Robert L. Swanson; music: David Buttolph; cast: Randolph Scott (Silent Jeff Kincaid), Lucille Norman (Susan Mitchell), Raymond Massey (‘Big’ Jack Davis), Richard Webb (Alan Kincaid), James Millican (Jim Squires), Larry Keating (William Sharon), George Cleveland (Henry Dodson), William Haade (Hardrock Haggerty), Don Beddoe (Zeke Mitchell), Thurston Hall (Charles Crocker), Vince Barnett (Henry, banker); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Weisbart; Warner Bros.; 1952)
“It was so rousing, visually pleasing and entertaining that I didn’t seem to care how worn was the formulaic plot line.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A routine horse opera made more exciting than it should have been by the great directing skill of André De Toth (“Riding Shotgun”/”The Bounty Hunter”/”Man in the Saddle”). The classy iconic western star Randolph Scott does his usual terrific job by his presence alone counting more than his acting ability. It’s based on a story by Sloan Nibley (regular writer for Roy Rogers) and is written by Mr. Nibley, Winston Miller and Eric Jonsson. It was the first film made in Warnercolor. It’s a railroad story set in the 1870s, out West. Randolph Scott is Silent Jeff Kincaid, an adventurous construction engineer in charge of laying the railroad track from Carson City to Virginia City in Nevada.

Raymond Massey is the cosmopolitan slick champagne-swilling villainous ‘Big’ Jack Davis. He’s the Carson City mine partner of the thuggish Jim Squires (James Millican). Their mine is a bust, so they rob the stagecoach and become known as the “Champagne Bandits” by serving the expensive suds to the passengers while they rob the strongbox of the gold bullion. Carson City banker William Sharon (Larry Keating) is fed up with the heavy losses from the holdups and has his San Francisco banker friend recommend the two-fisted brawler Kincaid to build the railroad. Kincaid returns to his Carson City birthplace after being gone for ten years and finds his kid half-brother Alan (Richard Webb) working for the local newspaper, the ‘Carson City Clarion,’ owned by Zeke Mitchell (Don Beddoe) and his 19-year-old daughter Susan (Lucille Norman). Kincaid tunnels through the mountain to lay tracks for the railroad in the Comstock mining area, but this doesn’t please the locals. The stagecoach owner Dodson (George Cleveland) objects because it will put him out of business, Zeke’s paper editorializes ‘that where there are trains, there are bandits,’ Jeff’s kid brother resents Susan showing more love to big brother than to him and snubs his relation, and the sneaky Big Jack refuses to go along with building the railroad by pretending to be loyal to Dodson. The baddies sabotage the railroad building by dumping a freight wagon of supplies over the side of a mountain and killing the driver, killing Zeke when he becomes suspicious of them and then blaming his murder on the railroad people, causing a landslide that kills several railroad workers and traps Kincaid in a tunnel, and when the railroad is completed they rob the train of its gold shipment. Of course, Kincaid rallies his railroad workers to thwart the bad guys and has the last laugh as he rides off in a caboose with Susan to live happily ever after.

Hardly earth-shattering stuff but the entire cast, the director and the production values are all so good. It was so rousing, visually pleasing and entertaining that I didn’t seem to care how worn was the formulaic plot line.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”