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  • Dana Andrews is a merchant/entrepreneur on the Oregon frontier during its period of pioneer settlement in the 1840s. He's got two women interested in him, Susan Hayward and Patricia Roc, a weak business partner in Brian Donlevy who's addicted to gambling and a big and mean man played by Ward Bond who wants to kill him. And of course there are the ever present Indians around.

    Canyon Passage is directed by French expatriate director Jacques Tourneur and I have to say Tourneur did a good job in immersing himself in American frontier culture. I don't think John Ford could have done better with the story, the cast, and the superb outdoor photography that puts those B studio westerns to shame.

    Patricia Roc who was a big name in Great Britain made a couple of American films at this time. Until the boundary was finally fixed at the 49th parallel, British settlers would not have been uncommon in the Oregon territory so the casting is not as strange as one might normally think. Ms. Roc didn't make much of an impression on American audiences and she was back in Great Britain shortly thereafter. Not too many British players of the period could boast a western in their credits though.

    Susan Hayward is strangely subdued in this film. She looks a bit out of place in this one. She's far better suited to an urban setting. Later on she did films like Untamed and Garden of Evil, but far more of her fiery personality was shown in those roles than in Canyon Passage.

    Ward Bond is the villain here, a misanthropic loner of a man, brooding and strange. I guess you can best compare his role to that of Judd Fry in Oklahoma. Has the same kind of problems relating to people, especially those of the opposite sex, that Judd does. It's one of Bond's two or three best performances on screen.

    The popularity of Canyon Passage was helped in large measure to the Hoagy Carmichael-Jack Brooks ballad Ole Buttermilk Sky which Hoagy also performed in the film. It was a big hit that year both for Hoagy himself and others who recorded it. Carmichael was an amazing triple talent in the entertainment field as composer, actor, and singer of his own and other's songs. His best known movie parts besides Canyon Passage would be in Young Man With a Horn and The Best Years of Our Lives.

    Tourneur keeps the film moving at a steady pace and gets quite a lot crammed into the 90+ minutes of the film. Western fans who like their films slow and easy will take to this one.
  • Canyon Passage is directed by Jacques Tourneur and is adapted by Ernest Pascal from the novel written by Ernest Haycox. It stars Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy, Ward Bond, Susan Hayward, Lloyd Bridges & Patricia Roc. In support is Hoagy Carmichael who offers up ditties such as the Oscar Nominated "Ole Buttermilk Sky". Music is by Frank Skinner and cinematography by Edward Cronjager.

    More famed for his moody black & white pieces (a year later he would craft one of film noir's best pics in Out of the Past), Canyon Passage finds Tourneur operating in glorious Technicolor on Western landscapes, the result of which is as gorgeous as it is thematically sizzling. The story follows Andrews' Logan Stuart, a former scout turned store & freight owner who has landed in Jacksonsville, Oregon. Also residing here is the girl he is courting, Caroline Marsh (Roc) and his friend George Camrose (Donlevy) who plans to marry Lucy Overmire (Hayward). However, there are problems afoot as George has a serious gambling problem, one that will send this tiny town into a vortex of turmoil. Affairs of the heart also come under great pressure, and to cap it all off, the Indians are on the warpath after the brutish Honey Bragg (Bond) kills an innocent Indian girl.

    The first thing that is so striking about Canyon Passage is the town of Jacksonville itself, this is a vastly different Western town to the ones we are used to seeing. Built in a sloping canyon that helps to pump up the off kilter feeling that breathes within the picture, it's also green, very green, but in a most visually interesting way. The greenery and red flowers give a sense of harmony, a sneaky way of diverting the viewer from the smouldering narrative, for we find that Tourneur is delighting in not only painting a pretty picture that belies the trouble bubbling under the surface of this apparent place of prosperity, but he's also revelling in using various camera shots to embody the unfolding story and the characterisations of the principals. This really is a film that begs to be revisited a number of times, for then you find with each viewing comes something new to appraise, to pore over to see just why Tourneur did something in particular. The host of characters are varied and have meaning, each given impetus by the uniformly strong cast - the latter of which is also a testament to the supreme direction from the Parisian maestro.

    I honestly feel that if this was a John Ford film it would be far better known & appraised accordingly. At time of writing this review it's still something of an under seen and vastly under rated Western, and this in spite of it garnering praise over the last decade or so from some big hitters in the directing and film critic circles. Cronjager's Technicolor photography is rich and piercing, where Tourneur and himself expertly utilise the Diamond Lake and Umpqua National Forest exteriors to expand mood of the story. Skinner's score is excellent, as is Carmichael's (wonderfully creepy characterisation) musical input, while the costuming is top dollar. Now widely available on DVD, there's hope that more people will seek this out. With the number of finely drawn sub-plots, and the wonderful visual delights and directorial tricks, Canyon Passage is essential viewing for Western and Tourneur purists. For sure this is a film that rewards more with each viewing, so just keep your eyes and ears firmly on alert and enjoy. 9/10
  • A bland, generic title disguises a sublime little Western which, despite being one of a string of prestige genre pictures shot in color around the same time – like DUEL IN THE SUN (1946) and California (1946; included in Volume 2 of Universal’s “Classic Western Round-Up” series) – only in recent years did its reputation soar considerably through the championing of renowned admirers like Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Rosenbaum. It is also important in that it marked Jacques Tourneur’s first film in color and for being the first of several Westerns he would go on to helm, the most distinguished of which was the black-and-white STARS IN MY CROWN (1950) with Joel McCrea.

    All the familiar Western ingredients are present (love triangles, crooked bankers, bar-room brawls, Indian attacks, impromptu court hearings turning into lynch mobs) but which are literally rendered fresh once more by impeccable handling and production values – the beautiful color photography (courtesy of color lighting expert, Edward Cronjager), skillful music accompaniment (composer Frank Skinner) and a splendid cast who rise up to the occasion of breathing life into their three dimensional characters: Dana Andrews’ restless hero, Brian Donlevy’s likable rogue, Susan Hayward’s feisty heroine, Ward Bond’s mean town-bully, Hoagy Carmichael’s balladeer-cum-cynical observer, etc. Besides providing notable roles also for Lloyd Bridges (as a hot-headed miner), Stanley Ridges (as Hayward’s lawyer father), Onslow Stevens (as a tubercular conman) and Rose Hobart (as Ridges’ enigmatic, exotic wife), screenwriter Ernest Pascal – working from material originally published by noted Western writer Ernest Haycox – adds the nice touch of introducing English émigrés (Patricia Roc and Halliwell Hobbes) into this community, which further aids the film in standing out from the crowd of similar fare.

    CANYON PASSAGE is undoubtedly one of the most vivid portrayals of pioneer life in the Old West ever brought to the screen, certainly on a par with John Ford’s DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (1939) but arguably working on a greater level of sophistication: for one thing, the relationships between the characters are more complex in nature than they at first appear (practically every major character is engaged to marry someone but is truly in love with somebody else) and the fact that Tourneur boldly chooses to have some of the film’s major events take place off-screen – Donlevy’s killing of the miner whose money he has been pilfering (which leads to the trial in the bar), Ward Bond’s slaying of the Indian girl (which leads to the climactic Indian attack), Andy Devine’s death at the hands of the Indians, Donlevy’s own ‘execution’ by the villagers, etc. – also hints that we are watching is indeed something quite special.

    Director Jacques Tourneur and leading man Dana Andrews went on to collaborate on two more films a decade later – the superlative occult chiller, NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957; which is apparently getting a fully-loaded release on R2 DVD later on this year) and the obscure Cold War thriller, THE FEARMAKERS (1958). One final note about CANYON PASSAGE: multi-talented Hoagy Carmichael composed and sang four songs for the film – one of which, “Ole Buttermilk Sky”, became a hit tune and was, sadly, also the film’s sole Academy Award nomination!
  • Tourneur's first Western is yet another of the director's unjustly misunderstood works. What at first appears to be vague or meandering tale is in fact an infinitely personal work with a subtle direction. Of all Tourneur pictures I have seen, "Canyon Passage" is the most endlessly fascinating. Here is a movie rich with pictorial beauty and simplicity, yet every time I watch it, I discover new things. The meaning often shifts and turns, revealing new depths, emotions, insights. You will probably not going to notice its emotional richness if you have just seen it once.

    When I first saw "Canyon Passage", I was a little puzzled by it, especially the relationship between Dana Andrews' Logan and Brian Donlevy's George, but successive viewings and Chris Fujiwara's book were extremely helpful. "Canyon Passage" is far from a typical or ordinary Western, even though it concerns with theme of the affirmation of the American Myth or the cohesion of community. Most of the events occur off screen, the dialogue alludes to previous events that took place before the movie starts, the Hoagy Carmichael songs are unforgettable and become more timeless with each viewing. The three separate songs lyricize the narrative much like the timeless unifying song in Tourneur's masterful "Stars in My Crown"(1950).

    Please give it another chance. It helps a bit if you revisit it from time to time to appreciate its neverending beauty and subtlety.
  • Colorful and vivid, Canyon Passage is crammed full of plots and subplots. It starts out looking like a family movie about pioneers in Oregon, but develops into a complex story with several key characters, the most important being Logan Stewart (Dana Andrews) a mule train outfitter whose business partner is compulsive gambler George Camrose (Brian Donlevy). Set mostly in a mining town, with settlers clearing the adjacent land for farms and wary native Americans watching their territory disappearing, it is a story that weaves together hit rich quick miners, gambling, pioneering, and a significant romance that brews between Camrose's girl Lucy Overmire (Susan Hayward) and Stewart, with Camrose piling on gambling debts and pilfering the till to pay them off. The precarious peace with the Indians is strained by the building of more and more cabins, and when it finally breaks there is a series of ruthless attacks on the settlers that are uncommonly brutal for a film made in 1946. With Ward Bond as mean and sadistic Honey Bragg, and Lloyd Bridges as gambling miner Johnny Steele, and Hoagy Carmichael as minstrel/philosopher Hi Linnet, this rather unknown western by Jacques Tournier, known more for Out of the Past and Cat People is a real departure from the Wayne/Ford/Hawks pictures of this era.
  • I don't know what it is about this movie, but it left a strange, hypnotic effect on me since I first saw it as a kid in Boston. It has stayed with me all thru the years. Not only the breathtaking scenery of Oregon but the haunting quality of Hoagy Carmiachel's songs, like "Oh Buttermilk Sky". It really stays with you. Dana Andrews is perfect as Logan, (and what a perfect name for his character). Susan Haywood always glamorous and a great actor. Ward Bond, a villain, scary and unlikable the way he mistreats his dog in this film, by keeping it chained to a tree and throwing objects at it. What boy who loves dogs would not feel disturbed and hate him for that? The cabin building scene, with Andy Devine, does has a flaw. Look for it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This film opens in Portland, Oregon in the 1850s; businessman Logan Stewart rides into town and withdraws some of his gold from storage; he runs a freight business and wants to expand; ultimately he hopes to bring the stage coach to the growing town. Somebody obviously knows he has gold on him as he is attacked in his room during the night; the assailant gets away but Logan has an idea who it could be; Honey Bragg; a man Logan suspects murdered a couple of miners a few days before. The next morning he leaves town with Lucy, the fiancée of his friend George. They are heading to Jacksonville where George runs the gold store... in effect the town bank. For some time after this nothing much happens; we see the townsfolk coming together to build a house for a couple of newly wed farmers; there is a tense but peaceful meeting with the local Indians and we learn that George likes to gamble rather more than he should. The action kicks off later when a man is murdered shortly after returning to town; George is the chief suspect as it is believed that he had been helping himself to peoples gold. Logan points out that the evidence is circumstantial and their 'trial' isn't legal but it is clear that they intend to hang George at nightfall; when he sees a chance Logan helps his friend escape. Bragg meanwhile has killed again; this time an Indian woman... the rest of the tribe are now on the warpath and many people will die before peace returns to Jacksonville.

    Given its age I had expected this film to be in black and white but it was in glorious Technicolor... just what the glorious Oregon setting required! The opening half of the film may have been fairly action free but it did a fine job of introducing us to the characters and giving us a glimpse in to the lives of people living far away from 'civilisation'... they may have been in the United States but if something needed doing they had to do it themselves; that included defending themselves when things got dangerous. By the time the action started I had grown to care about the characters. The action when it came was more shocking than I'd expected; among those we see killed are women and children we have been introduced to earlier on. The characters aren't all what one would expect in a western of this era; this is especially true of George who puts his gambling addiction ahead of his fiancée and is almost certainly guilty of the murder he was accused of. The acting was solid with Dana Andrews doing a good job as Logan and Brian Donlevy being equally good as his friend George. Director Jacques Tourneur did a fine job; perhaps it is because he was French rather than American that this feels so different from other westerns of that era I've seen. Overall I'd certainly recommend this to fans of the genre.
  • I never did think of "Canyon Passage" as a western -- more like a frontier-homesteader movie, but it still had the adventure and drama that makes a fine film. I agree with those that said there is something mysteriously appealing about this film, as I have remembered it since it came out in 1946 when so many other movies have long faded from memory. Ward Bond was not known for playing villains, and this performance was truly scary and sinister. Lloyd Bridges plays the friendly good guy that characterized his roles, and Dana Andrews is perfectly cast as the leader. The film is rather hard to find, and I am hoping a DVD will one day be available. It is well worth watching and collecting.
  • Canyon Passage (1946)

    This is a tale with a not so subtle moral message--the man who is modest, just, and hardworking is the better man. And he'll get the sassy girl, the one who is currently attached to the gambling big spender who is the good man's friend and opposite. Dana Andrews plays the virtuous leading man perfectly--he's strong without being a tough or outrageous strong man (like John Wayne) and he's also kind, with a smile the shoots off his sombre face like a flash of light. That's he's popular with women is no surprise, but he's committed most of all to being a successful businessman, and a restless one, roving from outpost to outpost in beautiful Oregon.

    His counterpart is the likable but flawed Brian Donlevy, who is really the perfect choice here because he isn't the kind of paradigm we will quite fall in love with. The woman who steals the show is Susan Hayward. And then there is Hoagy Carmichael, playing a role he often plays, the musician wise man who sees everything and understands it before anyone else. It's a great group, supported by hundreds of others (yes--an ambitious film) and directed with a subtle, fast touch by the unsung great, Jacques Tourneur.

    So, in short, "Canyon Passage" was surprise and a total pleasure. I couldn't take my eyes off of the photography and the rich color, good pure Technicolor with the redoubtable Natalie Kalmus coordinating. The plot is strong, and Andrews is terrific in scene after scene. Westerns are sometimes difficult to see from the 21st Century without putting it into some history of film context, but this one works as a drama, pure and simple, a drama set out west in the late 1800s. The movie is also unique in being set in the lush mountains near Portland, Oregon. The scenery is gorgeous in the big sense, but every small scene is lush and forested and rainy--almost the opposite of that dry, open, blue sky norma in a "Western" strictly speaking. Interiors in golden lamplight lead to exteriors of dripping greens and blues, or the delicate grays of night.

    Even the music is great, especially the lighthearted and clever songs by Carmichael. (The great Frank Skinner handled the rest of the score.) Edward Cronjager is one of the dozen great cinematographers of classic Hollywood, and in this you can see why. It's a complex film, visually, and it never lets up. Especially the night scenes (where the lights and sets could be controlled perfectly) are vivid and have that controlled beauty of great studio (and location) Hollywood. If any of these elements sound good, I wouldn't miss this film.
  • A nice picture indeed. It is an epic western, powerful and straightforward at the same time, a fine adaptation of a Saturday Evening Post Novel located at Portland area, Oregon, in 1856. It has got a good casting including Hoagy Carmichael playing his own songs (one of them, Buttermilk Sky, became a big hit). The colored photography in Technicolor is wonderful. An authentic gift for the eyes. The Skinner's music is excellent, the natural stage beautiful, the action grand. It tell us about the pioneer fight between themselves and against the Indian. If you like western movies, do not miss this one. If you do not, here is a good chance to start knowing healthy and amusing movies. If you declare yourself satisfied with it, as I hope, I do recommend another Jacques Tourneur western, Wichita (1955), with Joel McCrea and Vera Miles. You will be not disappointed. 7/10
  • This excellent , meaty Western contains interesting plot ,thrills , brawls , shoot'em up and is quite entertaining . A great Western with some impressive action and spectacular scenario .It deals with businessman Logan Stuart (Dana Andrews) who falls for Lucy who happens to be the fiancee of his friend , banker/gambler Camsrose (Brian Donlevy) . Then Logan is torn between his love of two very different women (Susan Hayward , Patricia Roc) in 1850's Oregon and his loyalty to his friend who gets into money troubles . There is also a nasty villain called Bragg (Ward Bond) who takes on Logan and a thrilling battle against Indians . Every Exciting Character ! Every dangerous moment ...

    Rip-roaring Western set in Oregon territory , Portland , 1856 . Moving Western including colorful exteriors , fist-fight between Dana Andrews and Ward Bond as well as a pulsating and violent Indian raid and tuneful melodies . Adding some unforgettable scenes as the building a house carried out the neighborhood similarly many years later in ¨Witness 1985 by Peter Weir . Dana Andrews delivers a sober acting as a former scout turned store owner . Brian Donlevy gives a fine interpretation as a compulsive gambler friend who goes over the line. Hoagy Carmichael that appears as a top-hatted role aptly named Linnet , chirping some songs that include the memorable Buttermilk sky . Carmichael serves as the wandering ministrel to the action . Support cast is frankly excellent , such as : Fay Holden , Andy Devine , Stanley Ridges ,Onslow Stevens , Rose Hobert , Chief Yowlachie , Ray Teal and Lloyd Bridges .

    Sensitive as well as catchy score by maestro Frank Skinner , including four songs sung by Carmichael . Strikingly filmed in color by Edward Cronjager . Being lavishly produced by Walter Wanger and associate producer : Alexander Golitzen , a prestigious production designer . Based on the homonymous novel by Ernest Haycox , the picture was well directed by Jacques Tourneur who was best known for his horror films .The underrated filmmaker Jacques Tourneur , though the present-day he is better considered , he was a prolific craftsman who directed some masterpieces . Jacques directed all kinds of genres , such as Terror : ¨Curse of demon¨, ¨I Walked with a Zombie¨, ¨Leopard man¨ , ¨Cat people¨, ¨Comedy of terrors¨ ; Film Noir :¨Out the past¨, ¨Berlin express¨, ¨Experiment perilous¨ , ¨Nightfall¨ and Adventure : ¨The giant of Marathon¨ , ¨Tombuctú¨, ¨Martin the gaucho¨ , ¨Anne of the Indians¨ and ¨The flame and the arrow¨.In Western genre he made 5 films : This masterpiece titled ¨Canyon passage¨(1946) , ¨Star in my Crown¨(1950) , ¨Stranger on horseback¨, also with Joel McCrea , ¨Wichita¨(1955) with Joel McCrea as Wyatt Earp formerly to OK Corral duel and ¨Great day in the morning¨ with Robert Stack dealing with facing Union and Confederation . He finally directed episodes of ¨Norhwest passage¨ (1958) titled Frontier Rangers , Fury River and Mission of danger . Rating : 7.5/10 , Well worth watching
  • I was lucky enough to buy a British DVD copy of this little gem - an excellent transfer. Mostly set in the gold-mining town of Jacksonville, Oregon, it's a Technicolor western with a great story, fascinating characters, excellent acting, lovely music, beautiful art direction, costumes and fabulous outdoor scenery. Right from the opening, you get a good feeling of what it was like in Oregon, how people lived and thought; and we're quickly plunged into their lives. Dana Andrews and Susan Hayward are at their best and most beautiful, photographed by Edward Cronjager. Andrews, a scout, turned trader, is not his usual taciturn hero. There's a lightness to him. Susan Hayward's cheeky independence is very appealing, and she looks particularly fresh and beautiful. Patricia Roc, makes her USA movie debut as Dana Andrew's maidenly sweetheart, and Ward Bond is a really scary villain. His menace from his first appearance is palpable I've never seen him photographed to such unnerving effect. Brian Donlevy plays a likable banker, who has a gambling problem, and is accused of murder. Andrews helps him escape a lynch mob, but I'll give no more away. There's even time for a few songs from local minstrel, Hoagy Carmichael. This is director Jacques Tourneur's first western and it seems to me that he brings a very European eye to the production - the overall colouring is ravishing.
  • "Canyon Passage" though advertised as a western, plays more like a pioneer frontier drama with most of the characters looking like miners or loggers rather than the traditional Hollywood cowboys. To its credit and that of Director Jacques Tourneur, the set pieces look authentic and you believe that you are in the Oregon wilderness of the 1850s.

    Logan Stewart (Dana Andrews) runs a freight business out of the small settlement of Jacksonville. The story opens with Stewart escorting Lucy Overmire (Susan Hayward), the fiancé of his friend local banker George Camrose (Brian Donlevy), back from San Fransico. Therin you have the eternal triangle even though Stewart is to marry Caroline Marsh (Paricia Roc) who is living with the family of Ben Dance (Andy Devine).

    Camrose however, has a gambling problem. He is running up a large amount of IOUs with gambler Jack Lestrade (Onslow Stevens). Stewart bales him out with the promise that he will quit gambling. Town bully Bragg (Ward Bond) has it in for Stewart. They brawl in the local saloon.

    Camrose meanwhile, has continued to gamble. To cover his losses, he is stealing gold from the deposits left on deposit with him. One of the miners returns unexpectedly and Camrose murders him to keep his secret. When Stewart leaves town, Lastrade sets Bragg after him without success. In the forest, Bragg murders a young Indian maiden which starts an Indian war and....................................

    Dana Andrews to me, never made a convincing western hero. His fight with Bond is totally unbelievable as the slightly built Andrews bests the hulking Bond. Bond by the way, turns in an excellent performance as the brutal and lustful Bragg. Susan Hayward is beautiful with her res hair afire in glorious Technicolor. Donlevy, also excellent, plays Camrose not as a villain but as a man caught by the evils of his addiction to gambling.

    Others in the cast include Lloyd Bridges as Johnny Steele a robust young minor and Hoagy Carmichael as wandering minstrel Hi Linnet (who among others sings his classic "Ole Buttermilk Sky". Andy Devine's two sons Ted and Danny play his sons in the film. Director Tourneur had worked with the legendary producer, Val Lewton earlier in the 40s.

    A beautifully photographed film with authentic looking set pieces.
  • rmax30482320 December 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    Jacques Tourneur directed a couple of real winners in the productions of Val Lewton at RKO a few years before this, and then "Out of the Past", a beacon of noir. His career decline in the 50s and he wound up churning out junk on television.

    This film, made when he was in his early forties, has been criticized because it doesn't seem as skillfully done as such low-budget masterpieces as "Cat People." But it's still a distinctive Western.

    First of all, Tourneur didn't simply throw away everything he'd learned at RKO. In those psychological horror stories, most of the menace is implied or off screen. He brought that particular trope with him. The majority of significant murders take place off screen. There is a climactic Indian attack but no shoot outs. Nobody is faster with a gun than anyone else. The result is less action and more of an emphasis on the dynamics of personality.

    Second, it's true that there is little of the Angst here that there was in the horror films but Tourneur has handled the tension well and he's trying to do something here that he didn't try in any of his other movies. He's captured a community. The stars are only cogs in a much more complicated social machine. Jacksonville isn't John Ford's kind of community. The crowd may build a house with joint action but they can turn vicious and judgmental and punitive at a moment's notice.

    Jacksonville is a peculiar community in some ways. Everyone knows everyone else's name and habits. And, as benign and affable as they usually are, they're intent on shaming Dana Andrews into a fist fight with Ward Bond -- in what is probably Bond's best performance. Of course the same applies to Ford's Irish community in "The Quiet Man." But this isn't a comic fight between Andrews and Bond. It's brief but extremely brutal for 1946. And it's unconventional in other ways. Usually in Westerns, the slug fest begins with fists and when the villain realizes he's outmatched he picks up a piece of furniture or an ax and tries to subdue the hero. In this instance, Bond gets the first punch in. Then Andrews gets to his feet, picks up a chair at once, and slams it down on Bond's back. The chair doesn't break into a thousand pieces either. The bloody fight isn't the least amusing and it wouldn't be equaled until "Shane" in 1952.

    The principle is Dana Andrews as the level-headed businessman who experiences role conflict. He's a friend to his weak partner, Brian Donlevy, but he abhors his dishonesty. He's had a long-time girl friend, Patricia Roc, but is increasingly attracted to Donlevy's fiancée, Susan Hayward. Hoagy Carmichael is around to add some unnecessary numbers to the musical score. Nobody's but Bond's performance stands out. The Indians are tolerant of whites -- up to a point -- and then they morph into the Goddess of Rhamnous.

    This is by no means the best Western ever made. (It could be argued that it's not a Western at all.) But it's tidy and deliberate; the dialog by Ernest Pascal has some surprises tucked away in it. "Censure on your lips; approval in your eyes."
  • The magical colors of this film that are even unrealistic, contrast with the hard reality and frustrated lives of the main characters. Dana Andrews wants to make it big with his business. Brian Donlevy wants to live in a sophisticated big town, and starts spending the gold of the miners which he is supposed to keep in a safe. He is also engaged to Susan Hayward, who likes Andrews, who wants to marry Patricia Roc. Ward Bond plays a bully, with mental problems. There is no fairy tale here,only in the colors, they all live hard lives. The Indians are always present, not accepting the log cabins that are built. Hoagy Carmichael is quite a significant presence, also sings great songs. Tourneur made another remarkable western "Way of a Gaucho", also with a fabulous color cinematography.
  • dougdoepke31 December 2012
    No need to recap the 1850's Oregon plot since it's pretty complex, anyway.

    Excellent Western, though the subplots tend to crowd up. The Logan (Andrews), Camrose (Donlevy) friendship is an interesting and offbeat one, especially concerning the lovely Lucy (Hayward). In fact, that subplot is more like a romantic quadrangle once Caroline (Roc) is added to the mix. And what great background scenery with the rolling green hills and far-off snowy peak. Note too, how combat with the Indians is not on horseback, the custom in westerns. Instead, the opposing forces skulk through the forest, a neat kind of eerie effect. And I've seen a lot of Ward Bond movies, but none where his hulking menace is any scarier than here. When he spies the Indian maiden alone and swimming in the lake, my imagination shuddered and ran wild.

    Underrated Director Tourneur hit his stride about this time with (Out of the Past, {1947}), and (I Walked with a Zombie {1943}, for example. So it's not surprising he would add the brutal but realistic tomahawking of the helpless settlers' wives, a memorable if gruesome feature. Anyway Tourneur tries to keep up the pacing despite the passing romantic interludes, such that we hardly notice the many characters drifting in and out. Low-budget Universal really popped a load for this A-Western, including the cabin raising sequence that's both well- stocked and ironic in view of later events. All in all, I don't know where the canyon of the title was, but I didn't miss it a bit.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    From the first scenes of this movie, you get the idea that you are into something a lil' bit special. The colors are like viewing a classically beautiful painting and the production values are superb. Jack Cardiff could have been the cinematographer. Some want to get into all of the psychological aspects of the movie but this is a movie to be enjoyed for what it looks like and is. Logan Stuart as everyman of American West maybe, but other'n that, good ole "B" western entertainment with a lot'a class. Enjoy the beauty of Susan Hayward and Patricia Roc, and maybe figger out what Stogey Charmical's imitation of Mary Worth is doing in this flick, but this is a movie that just seems to wrap itself around you and take you on an interesting journey. Some have noted that the movie might have been better received had John Ford been the director but thankfully, he wasn't. I appreciated Dana Andrews ability even more after watching this movie and recommend it to you for a few viewings because I think with each, you'll find even greater enjoyment of it. You may even come to like "Ole Buttermilk Sky". Oh, and Stogey decides not to follow 'em in the end so pay attention as he waves good-bye to 'em as they ride off into the sunset! You're in for a treat!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Canyon Passage is Western entertainment in the best "classic era" style – with adult characters and psychological nuances but absolutely nothing unsuitable for anyone of any age. It was directed by one of the era's greatest relatively unsung film-makers, Jacques Tourneur, who also made the excellent Robert Stack Western "Great Day in the Morning" but who is best known for his horror and noir works including classics like "Out of the Past" and "The Cat People". Tourneur's camera is always in the right place and never gets in the way, but most impressive is the way that he mixes larger-than-life star performances with more down-to-earth character performances to create an integrated whole.

    There aren't a lot of big stars in this film, but that's OK because it gives some of the character actors that you see in Western films a chance to do a bit more than usual, especially the great songwriter Hoagy Carmichael ("Georgia on My Mind", "Old Rockin' Chair", etc.), who also composed several charming songs for the film. The film's star is Dana Andrews, who plays Logan, a tough and ambitious mule-train manager in the Oregon Territory. His job is made harder by a variety of difficulties, including a partner with a gambling problem (Brian Donlevy), a nemesis who believes Logan witnessed a murder he took part in (Ward Bond), and 2 ladies who are interested in his affections (Susan Hayward and Patricia Roc), one of whom (Hayward) is already engaged to his partner! As for those supporting players, Carmichael's appearance as mule-riding, mandolin-playing town muse Hi is definitely the cream of the crop. His songs add another dimension to the film, and his character functions in a way like a fool in Shakespeare. He is a good observer, as he tells us at one point, and also contributes his opinions fearlessly. Thus we find him in the pivotal courtroom scene which will decide George's (Donlevy) fate, first cautioning the jury and prosecutor (Lloyd Bridges) that you "can't trust what you didn't see.. and sometimes you can't even trust what you do see!" and later giving evidence for the prosecution about George pinching from the miner's gold dust bags. It's not a contradiction in his character; rather this duality is inherent in his character, a very congenial conversation partner who might tell you some things you'd rather not hear. Logan is angry at Hi when he gives the evidence and accuses him of being a sneak, but Hi just says he has lots of time to keep his eyes open: "you have a big store and little time, I have a little store and lots of time." After Logan's store meets calamity he reminds him that now he has no store but all the time in the world – Hi is the kind of bearer of such ideas who you can't become angry at, because there's a sincerity in the way that he says them. He represents a certain ironic sense of humor among the pioneer culture that found a way to make light of even the worst circumstances.

    Ward Bond's performance is also effective, particularly for me since I haven't seen anything quite as dark from him before. I loved his menace during the bar fight scene… you can see the blood pouring down his face but his voice is still completely steady and determined – "that's OK, Logan, I'll break your back." He says it less as a threat than as a matter of fact. The scene overall is probably the most thrilling and visually interesting fistfight I've seen in any Western prior to George Stevens' "Shane", so great credit should go to Tourneur Donlevy always puts a lot of effort into his roles, and here he's invested the standard "good friend with a defect" bit with some personality (as he did also in the more famous "The Glass Key" where he was paired with Alan Ladd). I swore I spotted Dean Stockwell as the leading lady's brother, but I could be wrong…. Jay Silverheels has a very brief but memorable scene where he takes Hi's beloved mandolin and tears the strings off. Fay Holden also appears as the leading lady's mother and we have Lloyd Bridges as a straightforward miner who believes he's been cheated -- the audience has reason to believe he's right so it presents an interesting situation with our loyalty to the leading man taking a small hit. The success of the film depends to a certain extent on how much credit you're willing to give Logan for helping his friend, when his friend is so obviously not worthy of his trust. Then again, it's pretty explicit that the main reason he saves George is because he doesn't want Lucy (Hayward) to be hurt by seeing him hanged. In fact there's a kind of a dance around Logan's feelings for Caroline through the whole film. Nothing too revolutionary in that regard, but it's made very enjoyable by the genuine contrast between Roc's and Hayward's styles. Hayward, probably needless to say, comes off as far more of a free-spirit who could be a companion to Logan without forcing him to settle in one place.

    Basically, this isn't a film that's going to be hailed anytime soon as one of the all-time great Westerns, but it should be something that just about any Western fan would want to seek out regardless for the wonderful scenery, interesting characters, and most of all to see the legendary Hoagy Carmichael perform in a relatively substantial and certainly enjoyable role as a kind of a wise man of the old West. Solid entertainment that doesn't talk down to adults nor load itself down with complexities too far beyond a child's imagination – as such something that might have been common and disposable in its day but which from our perspective is something that should truly be cherished.
  • Out of all the stars who came out of 1940s Hollywood, I find I'm most interested in the films which starred Dana Andrews. Not a multi-faceted actor, but most assuredly a reliable one, Andrews is seldom ever mediocre in his vehicles--and of course it didn't hurt that he usually worked with great directors, such as Jacques Tourneur here. This minor-league but acceptable western, taken from a story by Ernest Haycox, has a wrangler and a feisty female trekking across Oregon in 1856, encountering woodsy folks along the way, as well as Indians and the woman's crooked intended. Not especially memorable, but still an entertaining second-feature spectacle with fine color photography and solid work from Andrews and Susan Hayward. Tourneur's direction gives the proceedings a light, airy touch, and the supporting cast (including Brian Donlevy, Ward Bond and Lloyd Bridges) is first-rate. **1/2 from ****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Essentially, a romantic drama, sited in early Oregon, a few years after gold was discovered in the SW region of the state. Most of the action takes place in or near Oregon's 2 largest towns then :Portland, in the north, and the gold mining boom town of Jacksonville, near the SW corner.

    Ambitious merchant Logan Stuart(Dana Andrews) is in Portland to pick up some merchandise and currency to take by muleback to far off Jacksonville. Also, he agreed to escort Lucy Overmire(Susan Hayward): fiancé of his friend George Camrose(Brian Donlevy) back to Jacksonville(No clue how she got to Portland, apparently on a pleasure trip). The night before they leave, someone enters Logan's room, apparently with the intent to stab him. But, Logan wrestles him until he escapes out the window(a rather clumsily done incident). Logan isn't positive, but suspects it was Honey Bragg(Ward Bond), who suspects Logan knows he killed two miners, currently blamed on 'Indians'.(Why would Bragg trail Logan all the way to Portland, just to kill him?). The long horse and mule trip through the wilderness is without incident. On their last day, they stop by at the cabin of Ben Dance(Andy Devine) and family, where Logan introduces Lucy to his girlfriend Caroline(Patricia Roc): a native Brit, whose parents were killed by 'Indians", hence was adopted by the Dances.

    After getting to know George a bit, we wonder what attraction his flawed character holds for either Logan or Lucy. He seems to be from a wealthy family, as does Lucy. Apparently, that is mostly what they have in common. Like many characters played by Donlevy, he seems to want to get through life in style, doing the least amount of productive work. He's also addicted to gambling, vainly hoping to make a living by it. To cover his gambling debts, he steals gold dust he is entrusted with, and leans on Logan to bail him out of the rest of his debts. He also tries to strike up a side romance with the wife of a gambling buddy. Later, he murders a miner whose gold dust he pilfered to pay his debts. He clearly states that he wishes he were back in the cultured East rather than this primitive society. Although Lucy and George plan to marry soon, as do Logan and Caroline, at the same time, it's clear Lucy is gradually realizing that Logan is the right man for her, while Caroline finally realizes that the often absent ambitious Logan isn't really the kind of lifestyle she wants in a husband. Thus, in the finale, the 'right' man and woman finally are free to pursue dreams together.

    Many of the scenes take place under darkened conditions: at night or in a dark forest, and most of the violent acts are only alluded to: an exception being the rampaging 'Indians', near the end. Another exception is the brutal fight in front of many spectators, between Logan and Bragg. Logan begins by breaking a couple of chairs over Bragg's back, thus largely negating the latter's advantage of a superior body for and experience in fighting. Bragg and George clearly are the main villainous elements in this tale: the one an uncultured friendless bully from the beginning. The other an aristocratic dilettante and sneak, whose villainy mostly related to his gambling addiction, is only gradually established, and who enjoys the undeserved support of his few friends. Both are marked for death by the plot, and both are eventually murdered.

    The background music is quite good. We also have Hoagie Carmichael as a significant character, who shows up periodically, to strum a new song on his banjo or to comment on the activities of the principals. His 4 original songs aren't really memorable, but fit the situation at hand. He warbles the most popular one: "Ole Buttermilk Sky", while trailing Logan and Lucy as they head for San Francisco to start a new life, after Logan's store was burned out by the locals for helping George escape.

    Patricia Poc was on loan from her British film company. She was infamous for her fickle intense romantic affairs, often with married men, including Ronald Reagan.

    Popular supporting actor Ward Bond occasionally played villains, but I can't recall any as blatant as Honey(such a sarcastic name) Bragg. In the John Wayne western "Dakota", he was a sneaky get rich quickly schemer, somewhat reminiscent of George, in this film...Donlevy often played oily villains. My favorite is Sid, in "Union Pacific". Andy Devine, as a homesteader, occasionally fills the scene.

    The film includes a reasonable balance of joyous and sinister elements. Among the former is a cabin raising by a large group for a newly wed couple, followed by a party... The outdoors scenes were filmed in several locals in forested mountainous Oregon, including the Crater Lake area. Mount Jefferson(I assume) is often seen in the background.

    I wish more had been included about the plight of the local 'Indians', as a result of the sudden gold rush. These were not the 'infamous' Modocs, who were located more to the SE of the gold fields. Within just a couple of years, their lives were totally wrecked by the swarming gold seekers, who decimated the local game, killed or pushed the 'Indians' off their home sites, which tended to be where the easy placer gold was, and largely destroyed their riverine food staples from mine tailings and hydraulic mining, the latter having silted up the Sacramento River in CA.

    Presently viewable at YouTube.
  • Much of the movie is shot in the Oregon woods. The Native Americans are all played by Native Americans, and the injustice to them plainly presented. The architecture is all authentically built. The pistols are stuck in belts, not in the rarely-used-then holsters. The characters are complex, and the dialog, while sparse, contains lines of Shakespearean depth. The lead character's strengths are at the same time tragic flaws.

    This can be watched as a simple and popular movie, but it aspires successfully to more than entertainment, to truth. It celebrates the frontier, while at the same time fully exposing its contradictions. The frontier becomes a metaphor for the limits of rationality itself, and a space for an exploration of the mode and meaning of the deepest human values.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Alan Jay Lerner wrote several screenplays so may well have been a movie buff and if he saw this in 1947 he may well have retained subconsciously the title of one of the four Hoagy Carmichael songs that feature, namely I'm Getting Married In The Mornin', only for it to surface some nine years later as the first line of Get Me To The Church On Time from My Fair Lady. There is, in fact a fair lady on hand in the shape of Patricia Roc - provided with the bizarre credit 'introducing', not really apropos given that she'd made twenty something films in England since 1939. There's a second, even fairer lady in the shape of Susan Hayward, cast somewhat against type as a virtually demure bride- to-be (a role, let's face it, better suited to Roc) as opposed to her usually feisty virago. The cast is interesting to say the least with Dana Andrews, Andy Devine, Brian Donleavy, Carmichael, Ward Bond and Llyod Bridges among others. Although he's included most of the classic 'Western' ingredients Tourneur opts to let them simmer on a low light rather than throwing them into a saucepan and turning the heat up. I'm guessing it requires repeated viewings to really appreciate.
  • The Oregon wilderness of the 1850s gets stunning treatment in Jacques Tourneur's CANYON PASSAGE starring Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy and Susan Hayward and introducing Patricia Roc (a British actress) to American audiences. Providing a few songs is Hoagy Carmichael, notably a little ditty called "Ole Buttermilk Sky" which was nominated for an Oscar in '46.

    The look of the film immediately draws the viewer in, as Dana Andrews escorts Susan Hayward to a western mining town where she's to meet her fiancé, Brian Donlevy. From the start, we notice that Hayward (more subdued than usual) is interested in Andrews even though she's scheduled to marry Andrews' partner, Donlevy.

    Of course, the story takes a few twists and turns as it weaves its way through some breathtaking scenery, with Ward Bond as the film's chief villain, a man called Honey Bragg, who has the Indians on his heels when he murders an Indian girl. But Donlevy is no Mr. Goody either, since it turns out he's stealing gold from the miners. We know he's going to get his comeuppance to provide a happy ending for Andrews and Hayward.

    Plotwise, it's old-fashioned stuff that's been done before, but seldom has a film been such a pleasure to watch because of the color photography. Dana Andrews is his usual solid, reliable self and Miss Hayward photographs beautifully in Technicolor.

    Not quite as fast-moving as it ought to be, but worth watching anyway.
  • One of Hollywood's most underrated directors, Jacques Tourneur, puts his stamp on the Western genre with this outstanding pic. He keeps a uniformly excellent cast busy throughout this fast-paced adventure which, though it hands Native Americans short shrift, delivers a keen sense of frontier life amidst some pretty spectacular scenery. There are plenty of movie directors today who could take a lesson from this kind of condensed story-telling. Why doesn't Dana Andrews get more credit these days, I wonder? He was in a list of fine films as long as your arm, and this is another example. Supporting him are Brian Donlevy, Lloyd Bridges, Susan Hayward, Stanley Ridges and dozens more.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    At the time this film was made, Alexander Golitzen was Universal's supervising art director. He had worked closely with Walter Wanger on Arabian Nights. Here we find him billed as associate producer and although he is not credited for art direction, it is obvious that this sphere was closely supervised by him. The sets are not only lavish, they also contrive to look frontier realistic, yet are artistic and dazzle the eye at the same time. Outdoors Oregon is beautifully captured in the Technicolor photography of Eddie Cronjager.

    The story is a little weak and is predictably conventional, but it incorporates enough action to satisfy the fans and it is earnestly enough acted. Ward Bond is particularly good as the villain of the piece, while Hoagy Carmichael gets to sing snatches of three or four songs including "Ole Buttermilk Sky" which was nominated for an Academy Award (unaccountably - it's a catchy song but we only get to hear four bars of it - and those right at the conclusion while people are stampeding towards the popcorn concession).

    The credit titles read "Introducing Patricia Roc", although surely she needed no introduction at this stage of her career with starring roles in maybe a dozen or more British films behind her. However, this turned out to be her only Hollywood film, which is not surprising - she doesn't really fit in here and it is hard to credit such an obvious glamor-puss as a frontier woman - Susan Hayward maybe, but Patricia Roc definitely no. Miss Hayward is effective and makes the most of her role, even though her fans will be upset that she is often not very flatteringly photographed. Tourneur's direction has style and pace.

    OTHER VIEWS: RKO, with whom I had a contract, lent me to Universal for Canyon Passage, which had the biggest budget I had worked with to that date. The music and songs by Hoagy Carmichael were especially remarkable. One of them, "Ole Buttermilk Sky", was nominated for Best Song, but lost out to Harry Warren and Johnny Mercer's "On the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe". - Jacques Tourneur.
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