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Dodge City (1939)

Approved  |   |  Western  |  8 April 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,269 users  
Reviews: 48 user | 35 critic

A Texas cattle agent witnesses first hand, the brutal lawlessness of Dodge City and takes the job of sheriff to clean the town up.



(original screen play)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Matt Cole
Dr. Irving
Henry O'Neill ...
Colonel Dodge
William Lundigan ...
Lee Irving
Tex Baird
Bobs Watson ...
Harry Cole
Mrs. Cole


Dodge City. A wide-open cattle town run by Jeff Surrett. Even going on a children's Sunday outing is not a safe thing to do. What the place needs is a fearless honest Marshal. A guy like Wade Hatton, who helped bring the railroad in. It may not help that he fancies Abbie Irving, who won't have anything to do with him since he had to shoot her brother. But that's the West. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


West of Dodge City there was no God! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

8 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Esclavos del oro  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Wade Hatton was based on Wyatt Earp. See more »


Wade Hatton is seen putting on his gun-belt and sheriff's badge in the sheriff's office, two scenes before he and a group of men are seen removing the board across the door to the office. See more »


Wade Hatton: Well, what's the news in Dodge?
Charley: Well, just about the same as always. Gamblin', drinkin', and killin'. Mostly killin'.
See more »


Referenced in The Making of 'Cape Fear' (2001) See more »


Little Brown Jug
(1869) (uncredited)
Written by Joseph Winner
Played in the saloon and sung by Ann Sheridan
See more »

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User Reviews

Old-fashioned, fast, enjoyable Western.
6 November 2004 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Olivia de Havilland is really attractive here, fresh faced and brunette with big dark eyes. She looks so thoroughly American. Any normal man would want to throw himself at her feet, show her his bankbook and genealogical tree, and beg her to marry him. Marry -- not simply cohabit, because she's not that kind of girl. It's strange too that she look like an ex prom queen when in fact she was born in, where, Tokyo? And into a famous British family, responsible for the design of the superb DeHavilland "Mosquito" of World War Two fame.

Errol Flynn came from a professional family too. His father was a marine biologist and a professor in Tasmania. But you'd never know it from Flynn's personal history. His autobiography, "My Wicked Wicked Ways," is full of humorous anecdotes, although the best revelations must have been edited out.

(Eg., he owned a house on Mulholland Drive with a glass ceiling in the guest bedroom so that he and his friends could creep into the attic and laugh at the goings on.) He's an Irishman here with a brawling and rebellious past. It was the last movie in which they tried to explain his Brit accent to the audience.

The rest of the cast will look familiar to any Warners aficionado -- Frank McHugh, Ward Bond, Alan Hale, Big Boy Williams. There is a great fight scene, outrageously overdone, resulting in the near total destruction of a barn-like saloon. The brawlers smash through the wall into the meeting of the Lady's Temperance Society next door. And nobody even gets a bloody nose, no matter how many chairs have been smashed over his head. It isn't as comic as the saloon fight in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," but it's a big one and it IS funny.

The movie features Frank McHugh as an honest and courageous newspaper editor who is about to expose the chief heavy, who is by the way a complete stereotype with not a decent bone in his body. Victor Jory, a slimy henchman, comes into the office, threatens McHugh, and smashes him across the face with a small heavy whip. I wonder if Ford saw this before making "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence."

Come to think of it, before the fight scene, some ex-Union soldiers begin singing "Marching Through Georgia," which annoys the Confederate veterans who strike up, "Dixie." The two groups face off and sing at one another. The same sort of competition reappears in "Casablanca," under the same director, Michael Curtiz.

Flynn wears a broad-brimmed flat-topped cowboy hat. This must have been a liminal period for cowboy hats. Before then, cowboy hats were huge and round topped with a slight crease down the middle. Tom Mix wore such a hat in the 20s and John Wayne made a couple of Gower Gulch masterpieces wearing a fifty-gallon corker. Ten years after "Dodge City," cowboy hats came to resemble ordinary fedoras with smaller brims, sometimes twisted upward in odd ways, like a vaudeville comic's. A little bit of hat iconography there.

The plot's entirely conventional. The good guys versus the bad guys, with nothing in between. Well -- that's how the universe is really put together, isn't it? Oh, how I hate Alpha Centauri.

One bothersome thing. A careful historiographical search reveals that, the cast of characters in this movie notwithstanding, absolutely no cowboy has ever been named Wade, Matt, Cole, or Yancey. The historical record shows no evidence of the use of such names, and goes out of its way to emphatically deny their existence in the Old West. It is also an established historical fact that the most common name among cowboys was Montmorency.

Hadn't seen this for years but was able to relax and get a kick out of it.

24 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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