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Friday, June 13, 2014

ROCKY MOUNTAIN (1950)

The last of three mid-sized Westerns tossed at Errol Flynn toward the end of his years @ Warners is taut, downbeat & serious, an unlikely effort from William Keighley who usually helmed lighter things. Set near the end of the Civil War, Flynn is leading a handful of men on a fool’s errand, hoping to start up trouble in California with help from a hard to find rebel leader. But the plans are interrupted when the men come to the defense of a stagecoach being attacked by Indians and wind up saving Patrice Wymore (shortly Mrs. Errol Flynn) whose engagement to a Union officer is sure to bring an army of rescuers, a Union Army. Stuck in the Nevada/California desert with no way out, Flynn’s only chance is to use the pretty Ms Wymore as bait for a trap. Handsomely shot by Ted McCord in some of the most haunting landscape this side of Monument Valley, the film largely avoids taking the easy way out, even if Alan Le May's screenplay falls back on too much voice-over narration to set things up (forgivable), and makes the usual implacable villains of faceless savage Indians (less forgivable). But very much worth a look, especially for some demonstration worthy horsemanship which doesn’t call attention to itself (look for Slim Pickens back when he was Slim Pickens), and a great little dog companion.

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