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Western Union (1941)

Approved | | History, Western | 21 February 1941 (USA)
When Edward Creighton leads the construction of the Western Union to unite East with West, he hires a Western reformed outlaw and a tenderfoot Eastern surveyor.

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(novel), (screen play)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Richard Blake
...
Vance Shaw
...
Edward Creighton
Virginia Gilmore ...
Sue Creighton
...
Doc Murdoch
...
Herman
...
Homer
...
Jack Slade
Russell Hicks ...
Governor
Victor Kilian ...
Charlie
Minor Watson ...
Pat Grogan
George Chandler ...
Herb
...
Chief Spotted Horse (as Chief Big Tree)
...
Indian Leader
Dick Rich ...
Porky
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A 20th Century-Fox Encore Hit !

Genres:

History | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

21 February 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Zane Grey's Western Union  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

One of the characters sings the song "Good Bye, Old Paint (I'm-a Leavin' Cheyenne)". The song didn't exist in the 1860's. See more »

Quotes

[last lines]
[listening to the clack of the telegraph]
Richard Blake: Makes a nice sound, doesn't it, coming across a continent.
Edward Creighton: It's music.
Sue Creighton: I wish Shaw could hear it.
Edward Creighton: It's a long way from Salt Lake City to Boot Hill in Elkville, but I think he can hear it.
See more »

Connections

Edited into Buffalo Bill (1944) See more »

Soundtracks

Gwine to Rune All Night
("De Camptown Races") (1850) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Stephen Foster
Played as background music for the first scene in Omaha, Nebraska
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Colorful Western From Fritz lang.
24 April 2009 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

"Western Union" is something of a forgotten classic western! Perhaps the reason for this lies in the fact of its unavailability on DVD in the United States. However, all is not lost as it has now appeared on Region 2 in England. This - being a blessing in some ways - is not only incongruous but totally ironic when one considers that a movie depicting the founding and establishment of such a uniquely American organization as The Western Union Telegraph Company is without a Region 1 release. It beggars belief! It simply doesn't make sense!

Produced by Fox in 1941 "Western Union" was directed by Fritz Lang. This was only the second occasion the great German director undertook to direct a western! He had done an excellent job the year before with Fox's "The Return Of Frank James" and would have only one more western outing in 1952 with the splendid "Rancho Notorious". Lang was no Ford or Hawks but with "Western Union" he turned in a fine solid western that holds up very well. Beautifully photographed in early three strip Technicolor by Edward Cronjager it boasted a good cast headed by Robert Young, Randolph Scott and Dean Jagger. The female lead is taken by Virginia Gilmore who really has little to do in the picture. An actress who never made anything of her career. Her presence here is merely cosmetic.

It is curious that Robert Young has top billing over Scott! It is clearly Scott's picture from the very beginning when we first see him in the film's terrific opening scene being chased by a posse across the plains. Young doesn't have much to do throughout the movie and seems out of place in a western. He just looks plain silly going up against Barton McLane in a gunfight! An actor who never really distinguished himself - except perhaps with "Crossfire" (1947)- Young appeared in a string of forgettable romantic comedies in the forties and fifties culminating with his greatest success when for seven years he was TV's "Marcus Welby MD" in the seventies. He died in 1998 at the age of 91.

"Western Union" recounts the connection by telegraph wire of Omaha and Salt Lake City. Scott plays a reformed outlaw hired by Western Union boss Dean Jagger to protect the line from marauding Sioux and to also take on McLane and his gang who are trying to destroy the line for their own devious ends. Robert Young is the young engineer from back east who joins the company and vies with Scott for the affections of Miss Gilmore. Some comic relief is provided by - and irritatingly so some would say - by Slim Summerville and John Carradine turns up in a meager role as the company doctor.

Altogether though a spanking good western, albeit on Region 2, but in sparkling good quality that fans will be delighted with. My only crib is that there are no extras, not even a trailer and that terrible cover with those dull graphics. UGH!

Footnote: Interestingly the associate producer on "Western Union" was Harry Joe Brown who later with Randolph Scott would create a partnership that would produce some of Scott's finest westerns in the fifties.


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