Vance Shaw gives up outlawing and goes to work for the telegraph company; his brother Jack Slade leads outlaws trying to prevent the company connecting the line between Omaha and Salt Lake City. Lots of Indian fighting and gunplay. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Originally, Laird Cregar was cast in this film in an undetermined role (possibly that of Doc Murdoch), but was unable to do the film due to an unfinished other project. He was replaced by George 'Gabby' Hayes, but Hayes then became ill and was himself replaced. See more »
In the opening sequence, Vance Shaw escapes a posse by riding through a herd of grazing wild buffalo. But in close-ups of the beasts, cowboys herding them can be seen in the background, despite no such cowhands in the establishing long shots of the herd. See more »
No one ever really believed that Randolf Scott was a gun toter; he seemed too gentle for that. But the veneer of respectability he gave to his roles helped reinforce the western morality of good superceding evil. Nowhere is this poetry more evident as in Western Union , directed by one of film noir's most gifted geniuses Fritz Lang, here working equally adeptly in colour. The shot of unfinished telegraph lines snaking away into twilight oblivion leaves lasting impressions.
This western prophecies the long professional relationship between producer Nat Holt and Randolf Scott which ran from 1946 and turned out cliché-westerns which weren't cliches at the time, and which, with practice improved till there was a kind of visual poetry about them. This isn't the history of Western Union, the way the western isn't the history of the old west. But it seems to relate a kind of truth, and that's what matters.
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