22 July 2008 | moonspinner55
Palm trees, red sunsets, gator wrasslin', and Terry Moore covered in mud...
Theodore Pratt's book becomes somewhat uncertain comedy-drama-adventure taking place in 1890 Miami, with land owner/confidence man Robert Cummings spreading word amongst the residents that a railroad will soon be running through South Florida. Jerome Courtland is the mail courier for the U.S. government who doesn't buy Cummings' story, especially after both men begin vying for the affections of runaway teen Terry Moore. Initially fluff-headed nonsense turns serious by the second half, with murderous scavengers trying to halt the progress, and swampland alligators giving everyone the bite. Cummings, talking as fast as Robert Preston in "The Music Man", looks every inch the dapper scoundrel, yet the writing doesn't give him a whole lot to work with (the script is plot-heavy without ironing out the characters). The overlit, occasionally gloppy color photography isn't helped by sequences that change from location shoots to studio replicas in the blink of an eye, and the wavering tone is disconcerting, yet director Earl McEvoy manages to keep everyone's spirits up and the picture is seldom dull. **1/2 from ****