(director: Budd Boetticher; screenwriters: Berne Giler/story by Albert Shelby LeVino & Berne Giler; cinematographer: J. Peverell Marley; editor: Philip W. Anderson; music: David Buttolph; cast: Randolph Scott (Capt. John Hayes), Virginia Mayo (Norma Putnam), Karen Steele (Jeanie Miller), Michael Dante (Rod Miller), Andrew Duggan (Clay Putnam), Michael Pate (Mace), Wally Brown (Stubby), John Day (Russ), Fred Sherman (Christy – Retired Stage Driver), Ed Prentiss (James Fuller), Walter Reed (Julesburg Doctor), Walter Barnes (Willis, Lone Creek station master); Runtime: 72; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Henry Blanke; Columbia Pictures; 1959)
“The programmer is saddled with a slight story, but Boettichermagically raises the film above average.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A minor dark western set in Julesberg, in the Colorado Territory, during the Civil War in 1864. Director Budd Boetticher (“Seven Men From Now”/”Ride Lonesome”/”The Tall T”)does his usual fine job when working with Randolph Scott, drawing the loner out as a stalwart hero fighting villains who have him outnumbered but still can’t bring him down. It’s based on a story by Albert Shelby LeVino & Berne Giler, with Giler writing the screenplay.
Postmaster general James Fuller (Ed Prentiss) gets a reluctant Union Capt. John Hayes, a cavalry officer, to take control of the Overland Stage and to make sure the stagecoaches deliver gold in a 2,000 mile radius to federal banks across the country to back its newly issued paper money. This is an important strategy for the North winning the war, as it will keep its troops supplied. Hayes is chosen because he worked for the Overland Stage before joining the army.
In Julesberg, Hayes finds that the Overland Stage agent Clay Putnam (Andrew Duggan), a wealthy southerner and old acquaintance of Hayes’ and someone who married his old flame Norma (Virginia Mayo), has become corrupt and is sympathetic to the Confederacy. Clay resigned from his post running the stage and rid the stage line of all the drivers and horses, and has a hired a gang of thugs led by Mace (Michael Pate) to make sure the stage line doesn’t operate and the gold doesn’t get through.
On the stage ride to Julesberg, Hayes befriended Union soldier Rod Miller (Michael Dante), who lost an arm to gangrene and is returning home to his beautiful wife Jeanie (Karen Steele, at the time Boetticher’s wife) to help her farm his ranch, and makes him the manager of the stage line. Hayes encounters violent opposition to his stagecoach line, as horses are rustled and the locals are inhospitable. The violence escalates when one of the thugs plugs Rod, in a bullet meant for Hayes.Then a stagecoach in which the gang knows carries a mother and her young daughter as passengers is nevertheless attacked and all the passengers are killed, which arouses the farmers in the area against Putnam and they help Hayes get rid of the gang.
The programmer is saddled with a slight story, but Boettichermagically raises the film above average.
REVIEWED ON 4/21/2011 GRADE: B+