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35 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

"Dodge City Will Be Cleaned Up"

Author: Michael Coy (michael.coy@virgin.net) from London, England
19 March 1999

Michael Curtiz directed this large-scale western. Colour is used to great effect in this early experiment with the new process. For the first half of the film, while characters and storyline are being established, the Technicolor palette is restrained, keeping mostly to browns and ochres. As Errol Flynn's character, Wade Hatton, emerges as the hero, colour begins to reinforce meaning. Wade wears a succession of impressive shirts (prussian blue, plum). Others wear plaid, but Wade's shirts are each of a single hue, emphasising his monolithic moral certainty. Wade is a bigger man than the others, and he wears a bigger hat.

Dodge is a wild cattle town. The railhead for transport back to the 'civilised' United States, it is the point to which Texan cattle are driven. The interface of rail and hoof is significant. When the cowpokes hit town after weeks on the trail they have a strong inclination to kick up their heels, and bulging pay packets with which to do it. There is no effective law in Dodge, and gunfights are commonplace. Powerful cattle dealers like Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot) cheat the merchants with impunity. Dodge City needs a strong, principled man if it is to change its lawless ways.

The film's opening image is a train hurtling westward at full throttle, a symbol of the burgeoning industrial strength of the USA, and of the Manifest Destiny which is already turning America's energies towards the Pacific and obliterating the frontier. We see the train slicing across the magnificent Kansas plains, and 'racing' the stagecoach. Machines are supplanting horses, and the train wins the race.

Olivia de Havilland is at her wide-eyed prettiest as Abbie Erving, the young woman who treks north with the cattle and eventually falls in love with the handsome sherriff. Flynn is an aussie actor playing an Irishman in Kansas, and both he and de Havilland are terrific as the romantic leads. A young Ann Sheridan plays Ruby the showgirl, Alan Hale is Rusty the abstemious cowhand and Ward Bond is Taylor the minor baddie. Victor Jory has fun playing Yancey, the mean ornery villain with the straggly beard.

Wade Hatton personifies the American Way. An immigrant who has done well for himself by dint of hard work, sharp intelligence and plenty of talent, he is fearless when it comes to protecting the weak or righting wrongs. When the call comes to pin on a badge and restore law and order to Dodge City, he doesn't hesitate. Wade stands up to an angry lynch mob, even though the 'victim' is a worthless crook.

A liberal alliance between the new sherriff and the town's newspaper proposes to bring down the evil Surrett. The newspaper's office has a portrait of Abe Lincoln on the wall. Appropriately, a killer is brought to justice because his hand is stained with indelible printer's ink - serving notice on all bad guys that the Press will always be there to expose wrongdoing.

The clowning is well done. Watch for the cowpoke who has his head driven against a post, or Flynn athletically tripping, falling and being hit in the back by a swing door. Rusty preaches temperance, but is gradually overcome by the tempting sounds of the saloon punch-up.

Wade's clean-up policy is depicted skilfully in the scene where a newspaper headline dissolves into the arrival of peaceful settlers by train, showing us neatly how Dodge is being tamed.

Verdict - A good-natured western with appealing performances by Flynn and de Havilland.

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35 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Errol Goes West

8/10
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
9 August 2005

Errol Flynn in his autobiography said he never understood his popularity in westerns. He never felt he was suited for them in the way Johnny Wayne was (that's right, that's how he referred to the Duke), but that he went with the flow at Warner Brothers.

In addition to giving Flynn technicolor and his favorite leading lady Olivia DeHavilland, Warner Brothers gave him a script with an Indian attack, a wagon train, a saloon brawl, a cattle drive and the usual results when at the end of a cattle drive the cowboys start celebrating and one blazing railroad train. Lots of western clichés, but served up very well indeed.

Bruce Cabot the town boss of Dodge City and henchman Victory Jory make some big money in many ways by keeping the town as rough and wild as possible. These two guys are pretty standard villains for westerns, but they play it with style.

Since this was Flynn's first of eight westerns, Warner Brothers felt it necessary to explain his Aussie accent by saying he was an international soldier of fortune from Ireland. Later westerns wouldn't even bother.

The climax involves Flynn, DeHavilland, and Alan Hale in a burning railroad car shooting it out with the bad guys. You can see it a hundred times and still be thrilled with how our intrepid heroes deal with their situation.

Mention has been made before of the saloon brawl. Possibly one of the biggest filmed on screen. Stock footage was used from it for years in subsequent Warner Brothers films.

Olivia DeHavilland hated this when it was first being made. She was trying at the time to escape playing the crinoline heroine to Errol Flynn and other stars. In truth that's what she is here. She fought for and eventually got the roles worthy of her talents.

But she related on an interview I saw with her that she was at a revival of this and of Robin Hood and seeing both of them again some forty years later and commenting on how well the audience responded, she felt a pride in the work she did. As well she should.

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26 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Warner Western Gamble Pays Off with Flynn Hit...

Author: Ben Burgraff (cariart) from Las Vegas, Nevada
7 October 2003

1939, the greatest year in film history, produced a number of classic westerns (John Ford's STAGECOACH, George Marshall's DESTRY RIDES AGAIN, Cecil B. DeMille's UNION PACIFIC), and while Michael Curtiz' DODGE CITY may not be in quite the same league, it represented a considerable gamble for Warner Brothers, and had a major impact on the career of it's star, Errol Flynn.

Prior to DODGE CITY, there had NEVER been a successful western with a non-American leading man; foreign actors were considered too alien to the settings and action of this most American of genres. But there had never been an actor like Errol Flynn, the wildly successful Tasmanian who had proved himself as comfortable on a horse as with a sword in his hand. Coming off the most prolific year of his career (THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, THE DAWN PATROL), Flynn had become such a box office draw that the WB decided it was worth the risk to star him in a big-budget western.

The risk paid off, as DODGE CITY was a major hit for the studio!

As Wade Hatton, an adventurous 'soldier of fortune' who decides to try his hand herding cattle in the 'Wild West', Flynn looks too boyishly handsome to be true...but teamed (yet again!) with Alan Hale and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams (a new 'drinking buddy' for his off-screen carousing), he proves himself more than a match against the desperadoes ever present in these films. When his boss, Col. Dodge (veteran WB character actor Henry O'Neill), needs a man to bring law and order to the town named after him, the fast-shooting, incorruptible Hatton (loosely based on Wyatt Earp), is his only choice.

Of course, with Flynn present, it was nearly inevitable that Olivia de Havilland would be on hand, as well, although a tragedy early in the story would delay their romance for a bit. Meanwhile, corrupt town boss Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot, another off-screen pal of Flynn), plots to rid 'his' streets of the annoying crusading sheriff.

Adding to the fun is rising star Ann Sheridan, as a saloon singer who is also Surrett's mistress. In her first film with Flynn, she matches his rakish, 'devil-may-care' attitude, and would go on to make two more movies with him (EDGE OF DARKNESS and SILVER RIVER).

Featuring broad comedy by Hale and Williams (including one of the most memorable barroom brawls in screen history), a terrific large-scale climactic shootout, and Flynn and de Havilland's potent on-screen chemistry, DODGE CITY offered audiences all the elements they expected in a western...with Technicolor (one of the first major westerns to use it), and a famous Max Steiner score, to 'sweeten' the mix.

There is a curious twist at the film's end; Dodge City now tamed, Col. Dodge informs our heroes that another community, Virginia City, needs their help, in what looks like an obvious lead-in for a sequel. While VIRGINIA CITY would be made, in 1940, again directed by Curtiz, with a Max Steiner score that repeated the DODGE CITY themes, and starring Flynn, Hale, and Williams, their names would be different, and the film would NOT be a sequel to DODGE CITY!

With the success of DODGE CITY, Errol Flynn proved his profitability in westerns, which would became a staple of his career. He made a total of eight at the WB over eleven years, and, in fact, made more westerns than swashbucklers OR war movies.

The western 'experiment' completed, Flynn and de Havilland now returned to tights and medieval gowns, to join Bette Davis in THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX...

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25 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Old-fashioned, fast, enjoyable Western.

7/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
6 November 2004

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.

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23 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

5 Reasons To Like This Old Western

8/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
14 October 2005

This is one of the better old-time westerns because:

1 - It is a very fast-moving story. No lulls here. 2 - The hero of the story (Errol Flynn) is a very likable guy. 3 - The gorgeous Technicolor (not many color films made around this time) which looks even bolder and brighter on the DVD. 4 - The story sports a good combination of action, drama, romance and comedy. 5 - A very young Olivia de Havilland at her prettiest

This was one of the first westerns to feature a well-known actor, helping to give the genre a boost in reputation. Bruce Cabot and Victory Jory are credible as villains. Alan Hale is tolerable in his normal role as the buffoon. The only disappointment was Ann Sheridan, a beautiful woman who did not look as attractive in this film and had a role much smaller than one would believe from the billing she gets on the DVD back cover.

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16 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Western With An Excellent Pace

8/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
1 November 2005

In 1866, Kansas, the American civil war has just finished and the armies disbanded. The building of the West begins, and in 1872, the new city of Dodge City is ruled by violence and shootings. The Irishman Wade Hatton (Errol Flynn) is a man adapted to these days and presently is conducting a group of pioneers, including Abbie Irving (Olivia de Havilland) and her reckless brother, to Dodge City. Once in the city, Wade is invited to be the local sheriff, and an incident makes him accept the position. He tries to clean up the cattle town, ruled by the powerful outlaw Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot) and his gang, with the support of the decent local people.

"Dodge City" is a western with an excellent pace. The athletic Errol Flynn is excellent in the role of a fair man, and Olivia de Havilland is very beautiful. The story has no plot point and is very conventional, but there are good scenes, such as the dispute between the future and the past, symbolized by the race between the train and the stagecoach and the fight in the saloon. I like, but I am not a great fan of western movies; however, "Dodge City" is a great entertainment. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Dodge City"

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13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

OK Western With a Scene That May Have Inspired One in Rick's Place

Author: gvb0907 from Falls Church, Virginia
1 January 2004

I like Errol Flynn, but I don't think he's at his best in westerns. This one has a "clean up the town" storyline, plenty of action, but perhaps too much comedy, given the course of the plot. For the most part it's a typical product of Warner Brothers' golden era, with Flynn's usual supporting cast, including Olivia de Havilland, Alan Hale, and Guinn Williams.

The film does have one very interesting sequence, especially in light of future movie history. In a saloon scene about halfway through, a group of cowboys with northern roots, or at least Union sympathies, start singing "Marching Through Georgia." Not to be outdone, another group, led by Williams, begins to sing "Dixie." Before long, punches are thrown and a mammoth brawl breaks out.

Sound familiar? Except for the fight, the scene resembles the song duel in "Casablanca", made at Warners three years later. Although the screen writers aren't the same, I have to think this was the inspiration for the battle between "Wacht am Rhein" and "Les Marseilles."

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Good early Flynn western in need of color restoration...

Author: Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
4 April 2001

'Dodge City' is a slambang western complete with cattle stampedes, runaway trains on fire, saloon fights and all kinds of mayhem--enough action to satisfy the Saturday matinee audiences for which it was probably intended. The taming of the wicked city of the west is left to Errol Flynn, the new sheriff who has to convince the pretty newspaperwoman (de Havilland) that he is not the man she despises for shooting her errant brother (William Lundigan). Ann Sheridan has a cameo role as the saloon singer girlfriend of Bruce Cabot, the main villain of the piece. All of it is photographed in early technicolor that must have been a lot better than current video prints would have us believe. Some of the outdoor scenes are fine but the interiors have a muddy look. Max Steiner has provided a lusty background score for this very robust entertainment that will probably please fans of Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland--but it is definitely not their best venture together. Their main love scene while on an outdoor horseback ride in the country is charmingly done--clearly their chemistry made them an ideal screen team. As usual, all of the proceedings are directed with gusto by Michael Curtiz. One of the comedy highlights features Alan Hale who finds himself as the only male attending a women's temperance meeting--before the screen's wildest saloon fight breaks out next door. Fair entertainment but not as solid as it could have been. Compare the color photography to another Flynn western, 'San Antonio' (seven years later)and observe the vast improvement in technicolor photography. Needs restoration for future video prints.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Well, well. So this is Dodge City, huh? Sort of smells like Fort Worth, don't it?

8/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
15 August 2009

"Dodge City, Kansas - 1872. Longhorn cattle center of the world and wide-open Babylon of the American frontier - packed with settlers, thieves and gunmen".

"Dodge City... rolling in wealth from the great Texas trail-herds... the town that knew no ethics but cash and killing".

Enter trail boss Wade Hatton, cunningly disguised as a dashing Errol Flynn........

Dodge City, an all action Western from start to finish, finds Errol Flynn {in his first Western outing} on tip top form. Based around the story of Wyatt Earp, Michael Curtiz's expensively assembled film charms as much today as it did to audiences back in 1939. All the genre staples are holding the piece together, dastardly villains, pretty gals, wagon train, cattle drive, iron horse, Civil War, shoot outs, fist fights and of course an heroic Sheriff. All neatly folded by the astute and impressive Curtiz. Aided by Sol Polito's fluid Technicolor enhanced photography, and Max Steiner's breezy score, Curtiz's set pieces shine as much as they enthral. A burning runaway train and the finest saloon brawl in cinema are the stand outs, but there are many other high points on which to hang the hat of praise.

Very much a male dominated film, it's with the ladies that Dodge City fails to reach greater heights. Olivia de Havilland, who is always a feast for the eyes in Technicolor, disliked her role as Abbie Irving, and it's not hard to see why. There is not much for her to get her teeth into, it's a simple role that demands nothing other than saying the lines and to look pretty. Ann Sheridan as Ruby Gilman gets the more sparky role, but she sadly doesn't get that much screen time. Which is a shame because what little there is of Sheridan is really rather great.

Those problems aside, it's with the guys that Dodge City is rightly remembered. Flynn attacks the role of Hatton with gusto and a glint in his eye. When he straps on the Sheriff badge for the first time it's akin to Clark Kent shredding his suit to become Superman. Yes it's that exciting. Bruce Cabot and Victor Jory are growly and great villains, while comedy relief comes in the fine form of side-kickers Alan Hale and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams. Dodge City sets out to entertain, and entertain it does. In a year that saw other notable and lauded Westerns also released {Stagecoach, Jesse James and Destry Rides Again} give credit where credit is due, Dodge City deserves its place amongst those offerings. Most assuredly so as well. 8/10

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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Dodge City-Don't Dodge this Film ***1/2

9/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
3 April 2006

Errol Flynn's British accent was showing big-time in this 1939 film but he made the most of it.

This is an exciting film dealing with western expansion following the Civil War. Michael Curtiz's expert directing along with a strong cast and great story make for one interesting film.

We have Bruce Cabot as usual playing a villain. He will purchase cattle but will kill the seller so as to avoid paying. The bodies begin to mount.

After a tragedy befalls a child whose father had been killed by the Cabot character, Flynn, a cattle dealer, decides to clean up the lawless town.

Earlier, we meet Olivia De Havilland with her irresponsible, reckless brother, played by a very young William Lundigan. When his drunken shooting causes a cattle stampede with death (including his own) and destruction ensuing, his sister (Olivia) despises Hatton (Flynn) for firing the shot that ultimately killed her brother.

Ann Sheridan plays a dance hall queen who will cover up for the brutal Cabot. Miss Sheridan's part is wasted here. She has little dialogue but does light up the screen by her singing and dancing.

As Flynn begins to clean up Dodge City, the arrests and shootings mount up to an exciting climax. A bar room brawl is memorably staged in the film.

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