This ten-ton turkey from R.K.O. has John Wayne’s rough, tough railway engineer fighting his boss (mega-rich, autocratic Cedric Hardwicke), but falling hard for daughter Laraine Day. (Hard to explain why since there’s no chemistry between them. But then, lack of chemistry was Day’s specialty.) Object of contention? Hardwicke wants to tunnel thru a mountain; Wayne wants to build a bridge. There’s a big, big cast and lots of dynamite blasting going on (‘Fire in the hole!!’), but nothing adds up. And the TechniColor look is seriously out of control with exterior sets out of a stage musical and paint-by-the-number sunset tints. But that’s nothing compared to the idiotic drama (obstacles to the right/obstacles to the left) that has Wayne turning ruthless & bitter before Mother Nature (cue model trains & special effects) teaches him a lesson in loyalty, work relationships & marriage counseling. Hack director Richard Wallace can’t take all the blame, some goes to producer Stephen Ames who’s in over his head, and to writer Borden Chase (RED RIVER/’48) who should have known better.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Odd that it's Hardwicke, not Wayne, as the titular tycoon. And nice to see a young Anthony Quinn not as some supporting ethnic prop, but all suited up as a junior exec.