27 April 2011 | ejhutchaz
Great cast, mediocre action, retread plot
As a longtime Joel McCrea fan, I thought I had seen most all, if not all, of his westerns. But I evidently was wrong (for once in my 75 years!!!), as I had never seen this one until it showed up on the Western Channel recently.
As westerns go it was "Ho-um", which was surprising considering the cast: Joel McCrea, Luscious Yvonne De Carlo, and the always hilarious Alfonso Bedoya; who's animated performance steals every scene he is in.
Other reviewers have criticized this film for its sympathetic portrayal of Southern rebels trying to get stolen Yankee gold to the Confederacy, but this is not the first film to do a similar story. Virginia City with Errol Flynn & Randolph Scott, and Great Day in the morning with Robert Stack are two that come to mind. All three of these are fanciful Civil War out west tales about a Confederate scheme at the last minute to smuggle several millions in gold bullion into the South for supplies to keep the war going. And what happens in the end of all of these strains credulity to say the least.
BUT, these are movies, NOT documentaries, and made for entertainment, to sell tickets & popcorn, not to pay homage to the South, and not to be to closely analyzed as there are plenty of ridiculous plot holes and unreal situations.
Since this film was directed by George Sherman I had expected it to have the same quality great action scenes that he had been known for in all his many westerns from the 30's & 40's. Needless to say it fell flat there for the most part.
One area that they tried to be accurate on was the type of handgun every one carried: the Remington 1858 Cap & ball, fairly correct for the period. Except during the final showdown/shootout they more conveniently substituted the Single Action Colt, which was modified to look like the Remington. My guess is that this was more economical as it allowed used of the then popular 5-in-1 blanks used in most Westerns. For the uninitiated, these were blanks that would fit & fire in any revolver of 38-40, 44-40, 45 Colt calibers, and lever actions of 38-40 or 44-40 calibers.
The best part of any western, especially ones shot in color, are the beautiful outdoor location scenes, and here they almost overshadow the weak script.
This could've been a really good western, it's a shame it didn't live up to its potential, but its worth watching if only for the two leads.