• Warning: Spoilers
    The fourth big-screen adaptation of author Owen Wister classic novel "The Virginian" stars Joel McCrea as the eponymous hero and Brian Donlevy as the villainous Trampas. McCrea looks a bit long in the tooth to be cast as the title character. Director Stuart Gilmore's "The Virginian" concerns a transplanted Easterner on horseback who serves as foreman at Judge Henry's ranch in Wyoming. Barbara Britton co-stars as 'a wisdom-bringer" from Vermont who gets off on the wrong foot with McCrea. This is a traditional western lensed beautifully but primarily against studio backdrops and Hollywood backlot towns is comparatively dull. This morality play draws its gravity from a superlative performance from Sonny Turfs as Steve Andrews, a never-do-well, cloven-hoofed cowboy who prefers to rustler rather than earn his living the legal way. Steve wanders back and forth from the wrong end of the trail to work briefly for The Virginian. Steve and the Virginian are close, old friends. Brian Donlevy is dressed from Stetson to boots in black and plays Trampas as a thorough-going bastard. He ambushes our hero after Steve and the other rustles are strung up by the neck. The romance between the hero and heroine is complicated somewhat because she doesn't like the Virginian standing up for her. Molly Stark Wood resents the fact that everybody in the cattle town of Medicine Bow has her attached to the Virginian. The finale between the Virginian and Trampas in the streets of Medicine Bow could hardly be termed suspenseful. A tame oater at best with a straight-up, honest McCrea, with the sympathetic but doomed Tufts taking top honors. The target practice that Trampas and Steve have in the bar is amusing. Trampas blasts three whiskey shot glasses out of the air. When Trampas slings one shot glass aloft, he fires at it and we hear the intact glass strike the floorboards. Barbara Britton makes a pretty heroine.