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  • bkoganbing9 August 2005
    Errol Flynn in his autobiography said he never understood his popularity in westerns. He never felt he was suited for them in the way Johnny Wayne was (that's right, that's how he referred to the Duke), but that he went with the flow at Warner Brothers.

    In addition to giving Flynn technicolor and his favorite leading lady Olivia DeHavilland, Warner Brothers gave him a script with an Indian attack, a wagon train, a saloon brawl, a cattle drive and the usual results when at the end of a cattle drive the cowboys start celebrating and one blazing railroad train. Lots of western clichés, but served up very well indeed.

    Bruce Cabot the town boss of Dodge City and henchman Victory Jory make some big money in many ways by keeping the town as rough and wild as possible. These two guys are pretty standard villains for westerns, but they play it with style.

    Since this was Flynn's first of eight westerns, Warner Brothers felt it necessary to explain his Aussie accent by saying he was an international soldier of fortune from Ireland. Later westerns wouldn't even bother.

    The climax involves Flynn, DeHavilland, and Alan Hale in a burning railroad car shooting it out with the bad guys. You can see it a hundred times and still be thrilled with how our intrepid heroes deal with their situation.

    Mention has been made before of the saloon brawl. Possibly one of the biggest filmed on screen. Stock footage was used from it for years in subsequent Warner Brothers films.

    Olivia DeHavilland hated this when it was first being made. She was trying at the time to escape playing the crinoline heroine to Errol Flynn and other stars. In truth that's what she is here. She fought for and eventually got the roles worthy of her talents.

    But she related on an interview I saw with her that she was at a revival of this and of Robin Hood and seeing both of them again some forty years later and commenting on how well the audience responded, she felt a pride in the work she did. As well she should.
  • 1939, the greatest year in film history, produced a number of classic westerns (John Ford's STAGECOACH, George Marshall's DESTRY RIDES AGAIN, Cecil B. DeMille's UNION PACIFIC), and while Michael Curtiz' DODGE CITY may not be in quite the same league, it represented a considerable gamble for Warner Brothers, and had a major impact on the career of it's star, Errol Flynn.

    Prior to DODGE CITY, there had NEVER been a successful western with a non-American leading man; foreign actors were considered too alien to the settings and action of this most American of genres. But there had never been an actor like Errol Flynn, the wildly successful Tasmanian who had proved himself as comfortable on a horse as with a sword in his hand. Coming off the most prolific year of his career (THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, THE DAWN PATROL), Flynn had become such a box office draw that the WB decided it was worth the risk to star him in a big-budget western.

    The risk paid off, as DODGE CITY was a major hit for the studio!

    As Wade Hatton, an adventurous 'soldier of fortune' who decides to try his hand herding cattle in the 'Wild West', Flynn looks too boyishly handsome to be true...but teamed (yet again!) with Alan Hale and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams (a new 'drinking buddy' for his off-screen carousing), he proves himself more than a match against the desperadoes ever present in these films. When his boss, Col. Dodge (veteran WB character actor Henry O'Neill), needs a man to bring law and order to the town named after him, the fast-shooting, incorruptible Hatton (loosely based on Wyatt Earp), is his only choice.

    Of course, with Flynn present, it was nearly inevitable that Olivia de Havilland would be on hand, as well, although a tragedy early in the story would delay their romance for a bit. Meanwhile, corrupt town boss Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot, another off-screen pal of Flynn), plots to rid 'his' streets of the annoying crusading sheriff.

    Adding to the fun is rising star Ann Sheridan, as a saloon singer who is also Surrett's mistress. In her first film with Flynn, she matches his rakish, 'devil-may-care' attitude, and would go on to make two more movies with him (EDGE OF DARKNESS and SILVER RIVER).

    Featuring broad comedy by Hale and Williams (including one of the most memorable barroom brawls in screen history), a terrific large-scale climactic shootout, and Flynn and de Havilland's potent on-screen chemistry, DODGE CITY offered audiences all the elements they expected in a western...with Technicolor (one of the first major westerns to use it), and a famous Max Steiner score, to 'sweeten' the mix.

    There is a curious twist at the film's end; Dodge City now tamed, Col. Dodge informs our heroes that another community, Virginia City, needs their help, in what looks like an obvious lead-in for a sequel. While VIRGINIA CITY would be made, in 1940, again directed by Curtiz, with a Max Steiner score that repeated the DODGE CITY themes, and starring Flynn, Hale, and Williams, their names would be different, and the film would NOT be a sequel to DODGE CITY!

    With the success of DODGE CITY, Errol Flynn proved his profitability in westerns, which would became a staple of his career. He made a total of eight at the WB over eleven years, and, in fact, made more westerns than swashbucklers OR war movies.

    The western 'experiment' completed, Flynn and de Havilland now returned to tights and medieval gowns, to join Bette Davis in THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX...
  • Michael Curtiz directed this large-scale western. Colour is used to great effect in this early experiment with the new process. For the first half of the film, while characters and storyline are being established, the Technicolor palette is restrained, keeping mostly to browns and ochres. As Errol Flynn's character, Wade Hatton, emerges as the hero, colour begins to reinforce meaning. Wade wears a succession of impressive shirts (prussian blue, plum). Others wear plaid, but Wade's shirts are each of a single hue, emphasising his monolithic moral certainty. Wade is a bigger man than the others, and he wears a bigger hat.

    Dodge is a wild cattle town. The railhead for transport back to the 'civilised' United States, it is the point to which Texan cattle are driven. The interface of rail and hoof is significant. When the cowpokes hit town after weeks on the trail they have a strong inclination to kick up their heels, and bulging pay packets with which to do it. There is no effective law in Dodge, and gunfights are commonplace. Powerful cattle dealers like Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot) cheat the merchants with impunity. Dodge City needs a strong, principled man if it is to change its lawless ways.

    The film's opening image is a train hurtling westward at full throttle, a symbol of the burgeoning industrial strength of the USA, and of the Manifest Destiny which is already turning America's energies towards the Pacific and obliterating the frontier. We see the train slicing across the magnificent Kansas plains, and 'racing' the stagecoach. Machines are supplanting horses, and the train wins the race.

    Olivia de Havilland is at her wide-eyed prettiest as Abbie Erving, the young woman who treks north with the cattle and eventually falls in love with the handsome sherriff. Flynn is an aussie actor playing an Irishman in Kansas, and both he and de Havilland are terrific as the romantic leads. A young Ann Sheridan plays Ruby the showgirl, Alan Hale is Rusty the abstemious cowhand and Ward Bond is Taylor the minor baddie. Victor Jory has fun playing Yancey, the mean ornery villain with the straggly beard.

    Wade Hatton personifies the American Way. An immigrant who has done well for himself by dint of hard work, sharp intelligence and plenty of talent, he is fearless when it comes to protecting the weak or righting wrongs. When the call comes to pin on a badge and restore law and order to Dodge City, he doesn't hesitate. Wade stands up to an angry lynch mob, even though the 'victim' is a worthless crook.

    A liberal alliance between the new sherriff and the town's newspaper proposes to bring down the evil Surrett. The newspaper's office has a portrait of Abe Lincoln on the wall. Appropriately, a killer is brought to justice because his hand is stained with indelible printer's ink - serving notice on all bad guys that the Press will always be there to expose wrongdoing.

    The clowning is well done. Watch for the cowpoke who has his head driven against a post, or Flynn athletically tripping, falling and being hit in the back by a swing door. Rusty preaches temperance, but is gradually overcome by the tempting sounds of the saloon punch-up.

    Wade's clean-up policy is depicted skilfully in the scene where a newspaper headline dissolves into the arrival of peaceful settlers by train, showing us neatly how Dodge is being tamed.

    Verdict - A good-natured western with appealing performances by Flynn and de Havilland.
  • "Dodge City, Kansas - 1872. Longhorn cattle center of the world and wide-open Babylon of the American frontier - packed with settlers, thieves and gunmen".

    "Dodge City... rolling in wealth from the great Texas trail-herds... the town that knew no ethics but cash and killing".

    Enter trail boss Wade Hatton, cunningly disguised as a dashing Errol Flynn........

    Dodge City, an all action Western from start to finish, finds Errol Flynn {in his first Western outing} on tip top form. Based around the story of Wyatt Earp, Michael Curtiz's expensively assembled film charms as much today as it did to audiences back in 1939. All the genre staples are holding the piece together, dastardly villains, pretty gals, wagon train, cattle drive, iron horse, Civil War, shoot outs, fist fights and of course an heroic Sheriff. All neatly folded by the astute and impressive Curtiz. Aided by Sol Polito's fluid Technicolor enhanced photography, and Max Steiner's breezy score, Curtiz's set pieces shine as much as they enthral. A burning runaway train and the finest saloon brawl in cinema are the stand outs, but there are many other high points on which to hang the hat of praise.

    Very much a male dominated film, it's with the ladies that Dodge City fails to reach greater heights. Olivia de Havilland, who is always a feast for the eyes in Technicolor, disliked her role as Abbie Irving, and it's not hard to see why. There is not much for her to get her teeth into, it's a simple role that demands nothing other than saying the lines and to look pretty. Ann Sheridan as Ruby Gilman gets the more sparky role, but she sadly doesn't get that much screen time. Which is a shame because what little there is of Sheridan is really rather great.

    Those problems aside, it's with the guys that Dodge City is rightly remembered. Flynn attacks the role of Hatton with gusto and a glint in his eye. When he straps on the Sheriff badge for the first time it's akin to Clark Kent shredding his suit to become Superman. Yes it's that exciting. Bruce Cabot and Victor Jory are growly and great villains, while comedy relief comes in the fine form of side-kickers Alan Hale and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams. Dodge City sets out to entertain, and entertain it does. In a year that saw other notable and lauded Westerns also released {Stagecoach, Jesse James and Destry Rides Again} give credit where credit is due, Dodge City deserves its place amongst those offerings. Most assuredly so as well. 8/10
  • In 1866, Kansas, the American civil war has just finished and the armies disbanded. The building of the West begins, and in 1872, the new city of Dodge City is ruled by violence and shootings. The Irishman Wade Hatton (Errol Flynn) is a man adapted to these days and presently is conducting a group of pioneers, including Abbie Irving (Olivia de Havilland) and her reckless brother, to Dodge City. Once in the city, Wade is invited to be the local sheriff, and an incident makes him accept the position. He tries to clean up the cattle town, ruled by the powerful outlaw Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot) and his gang, with the support of the decent local people.

    "Dodge City" is a western with an excellent pace. The athletic Errol Flynn is excellent in the role of a fair man, and Olivia de Havilland is very beautiful. The story has no plot point and is very conventional, but there are good scenes, such as the dispute between the future and the past, symbolized by the race between the train and the stagecoach and the fight in the saloon. I like, but I am not a great fan of western movies; however, "Dodge City" is a great entertainment. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "Dodge City"
  • 'Dodge City' is a slambang western complete with cattle stampedes, runaway trains on fire, saloon fights and all kinds of mayhem--enough action to satisfy the Saturday matinee audiences for which it was probably intended. The taming of the wicked city of the west is left to Errol Flynn, the new sheriff who has to convince the pretty newspaperwoman (de Havilland) that he is not the man she despises for shooting her errant brother (William Lundigan). Ann Sheridan has a cameo role as the saloon singer girlfriend of Bruce Cabot, the main villain of the piece. All of it is photographed in early technicolor that must have been a lot better than current video prints would have us believe. Some of the outdoor scenes are fine but the interiors have a muddy look. Max Steiner has provided a lusty background score for this very robust entertainment that will probably please fans of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland--but it is definitely not their best venture together. Their main love scene while on an outdoor horseback ride in the country is charmingly done--clearly their chemistry made them an ideal screen team. As usual, all of the proceedings are directed with gusto by Michael Curtiz. One of the comedy highlights features Alan Hale who finds himself as the only male attending a women's temperance meeting--before the screen's wildest saloon fight breaks out next door. Fair entertainment but not as solid as it could have been. Compare the color photography to another Flynn western, 'San Antonio' (seven years later)and observe the vast improvement in technicolor photography. Needs restoration for future video prints.
  • This is one of the better old-time westerns because:

    1 - It is a very fast-moving story. No lulls here. 2 - The hero of the story (Errol Flynn) is a very likable guy. 3 - The gorgeous Technicolor (not many color films made around this time) which looks even bolder and brighter on the DVD. 4 - The story sports a good combination of action, drama, romance and comedy. 5 - A very young Olivia de Havilland at her prettiest

    This was one of the first westerns to feature a well-known actor, helping to give the genre a boost in reputation. Bruce Cabot and Victory Jory are credible as villains. Alan Hale is tolerable in his normal role as the buffoon. The only disappointment was Ann Sheridan, a beautiful woman who did not look as attractive in this film and had a role much smaller than one would believe from the billing she gets on the DVD back cover.
  • Olivia de Havilland is really attractive here, fresh faced and brunette with big dark eyes. She looks so thoroughly American. Any normal man would want to throw himself at her feet, show her his bankbook and genealogical tree, and beg her to marry him. Marry -- not simply cohabit, because she's not that kind of girl. It's strange too that she look like an ex prom queen when in fact she was born in, where, Tokyo? And into a famous British family, responsible for the design of the superb DeHavilland "Mosquito" of World War Two fame.

    Errol Flynn came from a professional family too. His father was a marine biologist and a professor in Tasmania. But you'd never know it from Flynn's personal history. His autobiography, "My Wicked Wicked Ways," is full of humorous anecdotes, although the best revelations must have been edited out.

    (Eg., he owned a house on Mulholland Drive with a glass ceiling in the guest bedroom so that he and his friends could creep into the attic and laugh at the goings on.) He's an Irishman here with a brawling and rebellious past. It was the last movie in which they tried to explain his Brit accent to the audience.

    The rest of the cast will look familiar to any Warners aficionado -- Frank McHugh, Ward Bond, Alan Hale, Big Boy Williams. There is a great fight scene, outrageously overdone, resulting in the near total destruction of a barn-like saloon. The brawlers smash through the wall into the meeting of the Lady's Temperance Society next door. And nobody even gets a bloody nose, no matter how many chairs have been smashed over his head. It isn't as comic as the saloon fight in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," but it's a big one and it IS funny.

    The movie features Frank McHugh as an honest and courageous newspaper editor who is about to expose the chief heavy, who is by the way a complete stereotype with not a decent bone in his body. Victor Jory, a slimy henchman, comes into the office, threatens McHugh, and smashes him across the face with a small heavy whip. I wonder if Ford saw this before making "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence."

    Come to think of it, before the fight scene, some ex-Union soldiers begin singing "Marching Through Georgia," which annoys the Confederate veterans who strike up, "Dixie." The two groups face off and sing at one another. The same sort of competition reappears in "Casablanca," under the same director, Michael Curtiz.

    Flynn wears a broad-brimmed flat-topped cowboy hat. This must have been a liminal period for cowboy hats. Before then, cowboy hats were huge and round topped with a slight crease down the middle. Tom Mix wore such a hat in the 20s and John Wayne made a couple of Gower Gulch masterpieces wearing a fifty-gallon corker. Ten years after "Dodge City," cowboy hats came to resemble ordinary fedoras with smaller brims, sometimes twisted upward in odd ways, like a vaudeville comic's. A little bit of hat iconography there.

    The plot's entirely conventional. The good guys versus the bad guys, with nothing in between. Well -- that's how the universe is really put together, isn't it? Oh, how I hate Alpha Centauri.

    One bothersome thing. A careful historiographical search reveals that, the cast of characters in this movie notwithstanding, absolutely no cowboy has ever been named Wade, Matt, Cole, or Yancey. The historical record shows no evidence of the use of such names, and goes out of its way to emphatically deny their existence in the Old West. It is also an established historical fact that the most common name among cowboys was Montmorency.

    Hadn't seen this for years but was able to relax and get a kick out of it.
  • I like Errol Flynn, but I don't think he's at his best in westerns. This one has a "clean up the town" storyline, plenty of action, but perhaps too much comedy, given the course of the plot. For the most part it's a typical product of Warner Brothers' golden era, with Flynn's usual supporting cast, including Olivia de Havilland, Alan Hale, and Guinn Williams.

    The film does have one very interesting sequence, especially in light of future movie history. In a saloon scene about halfway through, a group of cowboys with northern roots, or at least Union sympathies, start singing "Marching Through Georgia." Not to be outdone, another group, led by Williams, begins to sing "Dixie." Before long, punches are thrown and a mammoth brawl breaks out.

    Sound familiar? Except for the fight, the scene resembles the song duel in "Casablanca", made at Warners three years later. Although the screen writers aren't the same, I have to think this was the inspiration for the battle between "Wacht am Rhein" and "Les Marseilles."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a terrific Hollywood Western that surprisingly stars the Tasmanian, Errol Flynn. When I think of Western heroes, I generally DON'T think about them starring someone from "Down Under", but this really wasn't a problem. Flynn was just fine.

    For me, part of the reason the film worked was its marvelous supporting cast. My favorite of Flynn's leading ladies, Olivia DeHavilland, is back and Flynn gets TWO side-kicks--Alan Hale and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams. Frank McHugh plays a rather restrained (for McHugh) supporting role as a newspaper man--in probably one of his best performances. Bruce Cabot plays an excellent bad guy and there are many, many more Warner regulars that make this a star-studded and familiar type film. Oddly, you practically don't even notice Ann Sheridan despite her getting fourth billing--she sings nicely enough but doesn't have much to do in the film. In addition to all the stars, you can really tell Warner Brothers pulled out all the stops because they secured the directorial services of a Hollywood Heavyweight, Michael Curtiz AND they filmed the movie in Technicolor--a relatively rare thing for 1939.

    The plot involves the widespread lawlessness that come to dominate life in this cattle town. When Flynn and his two buddies return to the town after a long absence, they are shocked to see that cattle tycoon Cabot has practically turned the town into his own private hellhole. The citizens live in terror and convince Flynn to become their new sheriff. There is so much more to the plot than that--including a subplot involving Miss DeHavilland and her brother. But, finding out how this all unfolds is something best left to you.

    By the way, the very end of the film is one of the few instances where they obviously set it up for a sequel. Flynn gets a telegram after he cleans up Dodge City begging him to now do the same for Virginia City and he and Olivia and his friends all announce their intentions to head there. However, despite bringing back most of the exact same cast in the movie VIRGINIA CITY only one year later, is really isn't a sequel at all--just the same formula rearranged quite a bit! Miss DeHavilland is inexplicably absent and this time Errol and his pals are not Confederate war veterans but secret agents working for the dang Yankees!! It's really a shame it wasn't a sequel, as this followup film could have been a lot better if it had taken that route as its predecessor.

    Finally, now that I think about it I did have one very, very minor quibble with the film. When I saw the child actor Bobs Watson in the film as "Harry Cole", I figured correctly that he was "dead meat". That's because this cute actor seemed to die in almost every film I've seen him in. His death scene in BOYS TOWN is almost legendary and he was also the cute little goner in ON BORROWED TIME--it seems his specialty was dying on film! So, when I see him, I know not to care much about him or I'll just have my heart broken in the end!!!
  • Dodge City was one of the first westerns in color. Made in 1939, it had a lot of "staying power" I remember it being re-released in the middle fifties, with many people thinking they were seeing a new western. The beginning shows the train arriving in Dodge, racing a stagecoach. Progress is coming, but a couple of years later, it becomes a lawless town. Errol Flynn and his friends will fight to clean up the city. The saloon brawl is the best part of the film and was many times used as stock footage. I saw Dodge City several times, each time enjoying it in a different way. I used to consider it an exciting western, action packed, very violent. Nowadays it has aged, But Dodge City is part of the history of the western movies, and like that it should be looked upon.
  • The film shows the supposed establishment of Dodge City in 1866 by Colonel Dodge (Henry O'Neill), a railroad magnate. Within the thirteenth minute of the movie we are fast-forwarded to 1872. The screen caption reads that Dodge is "Longhorn cattle center of the world and wide-open Babylon of the American frontier . . . packed with settlers, thieves, and gunmen." Also, "Dodge City . . . rolling in wealth from the great Texas trial- herds . . . the town that knew no ethics but cash and killing." There is a montage of street fighting, gambling, a hanging, gun-fights, and cattle. What had happened was that the railroad transformed a sleepy hamlet into a boom town that brought in much lawlessness.

    Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot), a cheating cattle-dealer, has cattleman Matt Cole (John Litel) murdered by henchman Yancy (Victor Jory) in cold blood at his rowdy place, "The Gay Lady Saloon." There Ruby Gilman (Ann Sheridan) is a singer and dancer. Now Surrett runs the town by kicking out any sheriff without reprisal. Enter Wade Hatton (Errol Flynn), ex- confederate Irish immigrant who formerly worked with Colonel Dodge by supplying his workers with fresh Buffalo meat. Hatton is now a trail boss. At 22 minutes we are finally introduced to Olivia de Havilland (Abbie Irving), who shares a covered wagon with her boisterous and obnoxious brother, Lee Irving. The rambunctious Lee does not last long as he causes a cattle stampede for no reason and gets trampled to death. Abbie blames Wade, who is totally innocent. Wade has two sidekicks: Rusty (Alan Hale) and Tex (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams).

    After a series of unlawful (and violent) events, Wade reluctantly becomes sheriff (one hour into the movie) and begins to clean things up. The wearing of guns is restricted as the jails fill up with rowdies. As the city continues to develop, Surrett tries unsuccessfully to get Wade into his corner. Meanwhile the love interest between Wade and Abbie develops. Then the murder of newspaper editor Joe Clemens (Frank McHugh) brings the pot to a boil. A gunfight on a speeding train on fire while bad guys ride on horses alongside closes the movie.

    There is symbolism here, like the opening shot of a stagecoach trying unsuccessfully to keep up with a fast-moving "iron horse." The town growth shows the changing West after the Civil War. There are various errors in the film, though. For one fact, the city was founded in 1871, not 1866. And it was named after Fort Dodge. Matt Cole's gravestone says he died on 6 June 1875, and yet, later in the film a newspaper headline clearly reads 1 July 1872.

    Despite its deficiencies the feature is well-crafted by Michael Curtiz while Sol Polito's Cinematography is beautifully accomplished. Yakima Canutt is one of the stuntmen. In a nutshell, the movie is entertaining and nicely acted, and the montages summarize events nicely. A famous scene, occurring at the 48th minute, is the mother of all barroom brawls for those who like this sort of thing. Lasting almost five minutes, it involves Union and Confederate sympathizers. The latter seems to be the "good guys" even though the former started the disturbance. By the way, it must be noticeable that Hollywood's earlier movies did tend to view the Confederacy with empathy, and ex-Southern soldiers as well- meaning. If you do not believe this writer, see "Birth of a Nation" (1915), "The General" (1927), "Gone with the Wind" (1939), "Santa Fe Trail" (1940), or "Shane" (1953). Ann Sheridan is third-billed as the dance-hall queen, and yet has only four scenes (of which two are brief). In the others she sings several numbers, including "Little Brown Jug." Errol Flynn, still in his heyday as a popular actor, is acceptable in his first western. He is both dashing and unruffled, although he is also a bit too urbane and well-scrubbed. Second-billed Bruce Cabot is appropriate as the villainous Surrett. Alan Hale as Rusty and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams as Tex are both very good too. "Dodge City" is one of the oldest western movies filmed in Technicolor that still survives.
  • Errol Flynn's British accent was showing big-time in this 1939 film but he made the most of it.

    This is an exciting film dealing with western expansion following the Civil War. Michael Curtiz's expert directing along with a strong cast and great story make for one interesting film.

    We have Bruce Cabot as usual playing a villain. He will purchase cattle but will kill the seller so as to avoid paying. The bodies begin to mount.

    After a tragedy befalls a child whose father had been killed by the Cabot character, Flynn, a cattle dealer, decides to clean up the lawless town.

    Earlier, we meet Olivia De Havilland with her irresponsible, reckless brother, played by a very young William Lundigan. When his drunken shooting causes a cattle stampede with death (including his own) and destruction ensuing, his sister (Olivia) despises Hatton (Flynn) for firing the shot that ultimately killed her brother.

    Ann Sheridan plays a dance hall queen who will cover up for the brutal Cabot. Miss Sheridan's part is wasted here. She has little dialogue but does light up the screen by her singing and dancing.

    As Flynn begins to clean up Dodge City, the arrests and shootings mount up to an exciting climax. A bar room brawl is memorably staged in the film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I was really surprised that only 29 comments were posted for this movie. I rate it at 10, because all of the people in it were at their prime and beautiful....even the men. Backing-up the big stars, you'll see all the familiar faces that made the western movies so watchable. Ward Bond, et al, must have made as much money in residuals (they made SO MANY FILMS) as the headliners.

    Erroll Flynn gets the job as sheriff (Wade Hatton) and does a good job in his role. The film's color shows-off his manliness, his acting was good. Olivia de Haviland ("Abbie Irving") is pretty-much window-dressing, having little opportunity to display her talents. She, too, was beautiful. Of course, this is one of those films where the leading-man gets his girl.

    This is one of the early western films to be shot in Technicolor's, and was one of several TCM showed recently in their tribute to films starring Flynn and de Haviland. I guess younger watchers haven't seen this film....I didn't even know it existed.

    It's importance is that after this film Ms. de Haviland began to let it be known she was very unhappy with the roles the studio was giving her. EVEREYONE was campaigning to appear in "Gone with the Wind" that same year - Ms. de Haviland knew where to go - right up to the boss' wife. She got the role she wanted, "Melanie", and finally got the opportunity to show what a great actress she was.

    Director Michael Curtiz put scriptor Robert Buckner's story in an easy- to-follow movie - these early films are a joy to watch, simply because they have just this quality. I recommend for everyone.
  • Errol Flynn takes the job of sheriff to clean up lawless Dodge City. Bad guy Bruce Cabot has a thing or two to say about that. Flynn's great in his first western. Olivia de Havilland is the pretty love interest. Ann Sheridan has a surprisingly small part (considering the billing) as a dance hall girl who sings some songs. Alan Hale and Guinn Williams play Flynn's buddies. Terrific WB supporting cast includes some of the greats like Victor Jory, Henry O'Neill, Frank McHugh, John Litel, and Henry Travers. Also features Bobs Watson, a kid actor who specialized in two things: being adorable and crying on cue. Fairly routine western but very well-made in good old Technicolor. Love the Pure Prairie League!
  • This is a real western, with all of the needed ingredients in it but added to that are several Michael Curtiz elements, that make the movie entertaining and even somewhat adventurous, though its obviously not your average normal Errol Flynn/Michael Curtiz swashbuckling type of movie.

    Westerns from the 30's and '40's were still much different than the later spaghetti-westerns. They were made more entertaining and had a completely different style. Most '40's westerns are even known to have a film-noir kind of atmosphere and feeling all over it. And despite being also always formulaic they yet always felt like something new and original. This movie also feels totally fresh, even though it features all of the formulaic elements, such as a saloon-fight, cattle-driving, card-playing, a hero who becomes sheriff, scruffy looking villains and stuff like that. The movie itself is extremely black and white and moralistic, in which bad is extremely bad and good is extremely good. If this movie was being made in the '60's or '70's, people would had uses laughed it off probably.

    For the first 50 minutes absolutely nothing notable happens in the movie. It's not that the movie is boring to watch or without pace but it just aren't the most interesting and compelling 50 minutes of cinema. However when the movie starts to take form and Errol Flynn gets his sheriff-badge, the movie becomes interesting and also totally likable to watch. The movie gets even more pace and the action starts to hit the screen. It's the last hour of the movie that makes you realize that this is a real Michael Curtiz movie you're watching! Some of his trademark directing elements start to appear, such as the fantastic use of shadows!

    Errol Flynn looks surprisingly in his element in the western genre. The role is more demanding than his usual swashbuckling type of role and he already sort of shows in this movie that he also knew how to act more seriously. He certainly doesn't look silly with a cowboy hat on! But yet he's above all of course still an hero in this movie, who does everything right, everyone respects and admire and whose clothes never get dirty. What I always like about Olivia de Havilland in her early movies is that despite being always the dame in distress, she yet is a strong and independent character. The love story (yet again) between the two doesn't feel like its slowing done the movie or distracts from the main-plot. It's well done and makes sure that it's never featured too prominently into the movie but it also at the same time doesn't make a redundant impression.

    The movie itself is good and big looking. They obviously had some money for making this movie. It's shot in color, which provides the movie with some nice looking images. It also definitely makes sure that this movie doesn't feel as much outdated as with many other '30's and '40's, black & white westerns, is the case. The movie has some nice action moments but you shouldn't watch this movie expecting big and spectacular action. It's more a movie that relies on its script and the actors playing in it. The musical score by Max Steiner is also quite good. It's a well made and constructed movie, that I feel, deserves some more recognition.

    It's not Michael Curtiz' only directed western but it's definitely his best known and most appreciated one. He made a total of 10 westerns in his career, of which 2 more with Errol Flynn starring in it, 3 more with Olivia de Havilland and even 1 with John Wayne in it!

    A good and quality movie, that's very well worth watching, even if you're not familiar with the work of Errol Flynn or Michael Curtiz or are not at home in the '30's/'40's western type of movie.

    8/10

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  • No action star and very few actors in general can come close to being as big a star or fine an actor as Errol Flynn, that swashbuckling hero of so many classic films of the studio days. Indeed, everyone from Vin Diesel to Jason Statham seems to take a page out of his book and watching Flynn's films only makes you appreciate even more his talent.

    Here, Flynn takes charge in a Western as sheriff of a seedy cattle town in dusty Kansas as he attempts to overthrow the corrupt cattle buyers that also run the town of Dodge City. At his side are his friends from the cattle drive, Rusty (Alan Hale) and Tex (Guinn Williams). Bruce Cabot is good as the antagonist Jeff Surett, but these kind of films are thin on plot and strong on lavish sets, costumes, and romance.

    To provide that romance, we have the dashing Sheriff Wade Hatton and the lovely but stubborn Abbie Irving, played by the remarkably warm and beautiful Olivia de Havilland. She and Flynn made 9 films together, and it is obvious that they had chemistry as well as the ability to give us characters of people that we care about and want to see together. There may never be another movie couple like they. As for weaknesses, the story lags a bit in the middle, but it can be forgotten after watching an exciting climax featuring Flynn shooting it out on a burning train.

    This film reminded me a lot of My Darling Clementine, the John Ford film from a few years later starring Henry Fonda. This isn't as strong, but it's more fun and a joyous ride all the way through. Flynn shows here what a charismatic and charming actor he was and it is a shame there will never be another like him.
  • Errol Flynn rides to his first western in this Technicolor movie from 1939.Michael Curtiz' Dodge City is a fantastic western.Flynn plays Wade Hatton who has to safe the city where violence flourishes.It is ran by the villainous Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot).He runs the city with the ways of a dictator telling what to do and what to say.The citizens are helpless until Wade comes to safe the day.There is also a lady along.She's Abbie Irving, played by who else but the wonderful Olivia De Havilland.Soon there might be romance that flourishes.Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland work great together in this film as they always did.Whether they were in the Sherwood forest or in a western town, there was always chemistry between them.Bruce Cabot makes a fine villain.Alan Hale brings some comedy to the picture playing Rusty Hart.The brilliant Henry Travers is Dr.Irving.I must also mention the kid Bobs Watson, who plays Harry Cole.The scenes with him are the most moving in this film.I really enjoyed this western story.They should make more movies like this today.
  • This is an under-appreciated Western, perhaps due to the unorthodox casting on a Tasmanian native as the lead. Nevertheless, Errol Flynn does a creditable job. With Guinn Big Boy Williams and Alan Hale supplying the comic sidekick roles, the movie moves along at a steady and enjoyable pace.

    Flynn is the cowboy finally willing to clean up the town after the death of a boy. He gives the "enough is enough" line, and takes over. Olivia de Havilland is the love interest. Veteran movie baddies Bruce Cabot and Victor Jory are the villains. Frank McHugh adds charm to his role as a newspaper editor.

    Director Michael Curtiz kept the movie well paced. The action is fast and plausible. Each time I see it I grow to enjoy it more.
  • He'd already been a pirate and an outlaw for director Michael Curtiz, but in 1939 Errol Flynn was cast in the rather unexpected role of sheriff Wade Hatton in Dodge City, part of the western boom of 1939.

    Dodge City is home to practically every western genre cliché in existence – cattle drives, covered wagons, lynch mobs, bar brawls and so on. It's been remarked that at the time these weren't clichés, they were fresh ideas. But that would be to forget pictures such as The Big Trail (1931), The Plainsman (1936), not to mention a host of silent westerns, in which all these typical goings on were well established. This isn't a criticism – after all genres are built on clichés, and there's no shame in that. Dodge City merely appears to have been intended as a kind of rough homage to the western rather than trying to take the genre anywhere new. These Flynn/De Havilland/Curtiz pictures were never meant to be anything more than simple fun. If you're casting Errol Flynn in his first western after audiences have accepted him as Robin Hood and Captain Blood, you're not going to make something like Stagecoach.

    Having said all that, in spite of its lack of depth, Dodge City truly is a quintessential western in that its underlying theme is the most common idea that unites virtually every western ever made – the friction between the old and the new, and the forging of the American civilization. This is set up in the very first scene, in which a stagecoach and a steam train try to race each other. As the picture progresses, the point is made that the price of progress is lawlessness, and that the taming of the wilderness must be coupled with justice, education and order.

    Dodge City also represents the high point (or should that be low point?) of Hays Code moralism in the western. At this time Hollywood was desperate to ensure the outlaws remained villains, and that no crime went without punishment, and this is one of the strongest statements of that. In his struggle to clean up the frontier town, Flynn is virtually a puritan, not to mention a strict authoritarian. The lines of good and evil are as stark as in any of his earlier adventures. The trouble is the western genre lacks the right feel that makes such fairytale ethics enjoyable. You can accept the hissable villain and dashing, perfect hero in an over-the-top swashbuckler movie, but in the old west setting they don't seem to work so well.

    Errol Flynn would later play some great roles in westerns (for example, They Died with Their Boots On), but here he is really just playing Robin Hood in a Stetson, and only the vaguest attempt at an American accent (although, like Captain Blood, he's supposed to be an Irishman here, making his plummy English tones even more bizarre). Dodge City also features one of the weaker Alan Hale sidekick roles. He's a bit too much of a bumbling oaf for the majority of the picture, then suddenly becomes incredibly competent and authoritative out of the blue for action scenes. There are no real standout performances, and even great character actors like Henry Travers and Victor Jory are underused here.

    Still, the Michael Curtiz mark of quality is definitely here. The big crowd shots are perfectly constructed as always. However the most breathtaking landscape shots appear to come from matt paintings, and Curtiz doesn't handle the wide open spaces of the west particularly well. For me the only real standout moment is a massive barroom brawl, with dozens of participants. Curtiz was great at handling these large scale action scenes, but none of the smaller stand-offs really get off the ground.

    Dodge City is a certainly watchable film, but there are far better westerns from this period, not to mention far better Errol Flynn films.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What was it about 1939? "Dark Victory", "Gone with the Wind", "Goodbye, Mr. Chips", "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", "Stagecoach", "The Wizard of Oz", and many more great films all from one magical year. And "Dodge City" was another winner.

    Make no mistake...this film belongs almost solely to Errol Flynn. It was his first Western, and he is simply great in it. But the rest of the cast is golden, as well. Olivia de Havilland as the love interest (again), Ann Sheridan as a saloon girl in what might be considered here first big role (small though it was), Bruce Cabot as the smiling villain. Alan Hale as Flynn's sidekick (again), Henry Travers as the doctor and uncle of De Havilland's character), Henry O'Neill as Colonel Grenville Dodge, and Victor Jory as the even worse bad guy. Special mention should be made of Frank McHugh, in an odd role for him...no comedy...straight drama...and I enjoyed him this way, while I often tired of his silly roles in most other films.

    In terms of the plot, one of our reviewers said the film was "entirely conventional". Well, I think this film was what made some of those plot devices "conventional" -- a stampede, a runaway railway chase, a cliff hanger shoot out, and more. Virtually every Western listed as "one of the greatest" came after 1939 and this film and "Stagecoach".

    And, particularly with Blue-Ray, this film -- in Technicolor -- has been restored to its colorful glory.

    If you like Westerns at least a little bit, this is one to watch.
  • A number of Hollywood actors are known for the western movies they starred in. John Wayne, of course, is probably the one that most people think of. Similarly, Randolph Scott, Joel McCrae, Gary Cooper, and Clint Eastwood are often associated with this genre.

    Errol Flynn is better known for his swashbuckling roles in movies such as "Captain Blood" and "The Sea Hawk", but "Dodge City" is an impressive debut for him in a horse opera.

    He plays an adventurer, of sorts, who's been a soldier and a revolutionary, and, when his character is introduced in the film, he's a cowboy and a former buffalo hunter. He eventually becomes sheriff who brings justice to a lawless Dodge City.

    It's a solid movie with all the necessary elements for a good story: a dashing hero, a charming damsel (played by Olivia de Havilland) who eventually finds herself in distress, a few moments of comic relief (provided by the characters played by Alan Hale and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams) and a climactic fight in which the good guys win over the baddies.

    This movie was one of several westerns that Flynn made, including "Virginia City", "Rocky Mountain", and the terrific, though historically inaccurate, "They Died With Their Boots On". It's not a definitive western such as "Red River" or "The Searchers", but it's delightfully entertaining nonetheless.

    It's definitely worth seeing more than once and would make a good addition to one's western movie collection.
  • samhill521523 March 2010
    I honestly can't believe I sat though this laughable exercise in film-making. I honestly can't think of one thing to commend it. The closest is Ann Sheridan's first stage scene and that's saying a lot considering it lasted all of a couple of minutes. The whole time I was hoping that with such accomplished thespians as Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Ann Sheridan, Bruce Cabot, Victor Jory, Alan Hale (need I go on?), directed by Michael Curtiz no less, something, anything, would elevate this film. I guess I should have known better because with the opening sequence this one began to stink to high heaven. But I kept hoping...

    OK, so what's wrong with it? Well it's an encyclopedia of clichés. I suspect the writers scoured every script out there, gathered all the worn-out clichés, and used every one of them in this film. Another way to look at it: if you want to know the worst clichés in moviedom don't look any farther than "Dodge City". They're all here a-plenty. What about character development you say? Well, what about it? This movie is made up of a series of one-dimensional characters with little or no depth whose motivations don't go much beyond those of five-year olds.

    I could go on and on, find fault with just about every aspect of this film but you get the idea. This one was conceived and produced by five-year olds for five-year olds. Actually I can think of some five-year olds who would think it stupid so enough said.
  • In "Dodge City" Flynn and de Havilland make us forget they were ever Peter and Arabella or Robin and Marian. As Wade Hatton, Flynn is the softspoken - but strong- gentleman cowboy with manners and demeanor that would charm your great-grandma. I can understand why de Havilland was so unhappy with this assignment-her part is the generic love interest. HOWEVER..she gives it her all, delightful and believable as the intelligent, determined Abbie Irving, and she looks gorgeous. The scene between Flynn and de Havilland in the newspaper office has the spark we expect from these two great stars. Only complaint - not enough scenes of them together. And Flynn should have kissed her in the last scene when she agrees as a new bride to take the next wagon train west so he can clean up another lawless town. Alan Hale is terrific as Flynn's sidekick. Steiner's music is again stirringly beautiful. Sol Polito, the Oscar-nominated cinematographer, presents the viewer with the most beautifully photographed scenery and the wagon trains that took the pioneers west.

    One should remember that the film is not the cliché others have pronounced it to be. What you see here is the original. Curtiz knew how to fill a screen with action.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Errol Flynn and Oliva de Havilland do it again in a great Western epic tale. I guarantee you will enjoy this exciting adventure.

    (Spoiler) Wad is a cow man which is going to sale his cattle in doge city. On the way he meets Olivia de Havilland and her brother. The brother gets killed accidentally and Olivia blames Errol for it. It's a stamped caused by her brother, shooting and out of control behavior. When the company reaches doge city the place is in serious need of help the entire town is run by a band of cut throats it's just not decent for a family. Errol tries to make a mends with Olivia and after another accident with a local child which dies. Errol takes it a pond himself to become the new sheriff. Can Errol Flynn win over Olivia's heart and capture the bad Guy? If you like this movie try High Noon and The Stage Coach

    Make it a family western Night Gaterboy111
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