15 February 2012 | oldblackandwhite
David Brian Steals Fort Worth -- The Town And The Movie!
Fort Worth is a well turned out Technicolor Western that packs a full load of action, colorful dialog, robust character studies, and engaging plot twists into 80 minutes of running time. The formidable entertainment value of this unpretentious B-plus oater gets a considerable boost from the charismatic screen presence of second lead David Brian. Tall, brawny, and blond, the steely-eyed, gravel-voiced Brian dominated virtually every picture he was in, and this one is no exception. Michael Curtiz once said that Randolph Scott was the only gentleman he had ever known in the movie business. It is to be hoped that top-billed Scott was a good sport during the filming of Ft. Worth, because Brian almost completely stole the spotlight as the swaggering empire builder who is the old friend, sometimes adversary, sometimes ally of crusading newspaperman Scott. The screen seems to simply come alive every time Brian steps in front of the camera. The dynamic Brian was the perfect foil for the mild-mannered Scott, and their alternately tense, cordial interaction is the great asset of this picture.
But not the only one. A fine supporting cast is led by Ray Teal, as a smirking villain, and Phillis Thaxter, the wholesome love interest over whose affections Scott and Brian inevitably clash. Cinematography in gorgeous three-strip Technicolor by Sid Hickox, sets, and costumes all have a first rate look. John Twist's original screenplay is complex and intelligent. His colorful dialog is disarmingly amusing as his characters spout such rustic metaphors as, "You've knocked a hole in my fence all right, but you may tear your britches if you jump through it too quick!" and "Don't swing on the gate too long, or you may get a belly full of horns!" Edwin L. Marin's direction is tight and on target with nary a camera shot wasted. Marin made a career of turning out medium budget pictures, equally at home with Philo Vance mystery thrillers or Ann Sothern's light comedies. He turned to Westerns, for which he seemed to have a special touch, late in his career, beginning with John Wyane favorite Tall In The Saddle (1944). Two years later he directed Randolph Scott for the first time in the tough, "noirish" Western Abilene Town (1946), followed by a half-dozen more collaborations in the late 'forties and early fifties. Scott seemed at his best under Marin's guidance. Unfortnately Marin died suddenly in May 1951 after Fort Worth had been filmed but before its release.
For my money Fort Worth, along with Abilene Town, is one of Scott's best Westerns, fast-paced, action-packed, dramatically engaging, beautifully filmed, entertaining from beginning to end. Not a classic, but a good one from the waning days of Old Hollywood's Golden Era.