The Desperadoes (1943) Poster

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Bravo!! Columbia's first Technicolor western is a beaut!!
Neil Doyle9 November 2002
For an enjoyable western starring the young Glenn Ford, Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor and Evelyn Keyes, you can't go wrong with THE DESPERADOES. Filmed in gorgeous technicolor, there's a Zane Grey feeling about the storyline--a man (Ford) hoping to redeem his crooked past joins forces with a lawman (Scott) and helps him capture the thieves behind a bank robbery. Sure, it's all been done before but the pace is quick, the dialogue brisk and the action is sometimes quite spectacular.

Particularly exciting and novel is the use of a stampede started by a blast of nitro, all designed as a distraction while Ford rushes to the aid of a wrongly imprisoned sheriff (Scott). Guinn "Big Boy" Williams plays his 'Nitro' character with his usual blustery charm.

Nice performances from a cast including Edgar Buchanan, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Raymond Walburn and Irving Bacon as a bartender whose saloon keeps getting blasted and destroyed by gunfire battles.

Entertaining all the way through.
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5/10
Better Than Average Western!
bsmith555220 February 2003
"The Desperadoes" although released in 1943, was Columbia's first color feature. Director Charles Vidor gives us some dazzling outdoor scenes and plenty of action to boot.

"Respectable" citizens Banker Clanton (Porter Hall) and Postmaster "Uncle Willie" (Edgar Buchanan) stage a phony bank robbery and plan a second robbery when a herd of horses is sold to the army. Gunman, Cheyenne Rogers (a very young Glenn Ford) was hired to carry out the first robbery but is delayed and Jack Lester (Bernard Nedell) and his gang substitute. After "borrowing" Sheriff Steve Upton's (Randolph Scott) horse, he rides into town and meets Uncle Willie's daughter Allison (Evelyn Keyes) with whom he falls in love.

In town, saloon madame, "The Countess" (Claire Trevor) turns out to also be in love with Cheyenne. There Cheyenne hooks up with partner "Nitro" (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams). Lester exposes Cheyenne as an outlaw to the town and a slam-bang saloon brawl ensues. Following the fight, Steve orders Cheyenne and Nitro out of town. Unbeknownst to Cheyenne, Nitro robs the bank on the way out of town. After being cornered, the boys surrender and are sentenced to be hanged by Judge Raymond Walburn.

Steve helps the boys to escape but is himself imprisoned as an accomplice. Naturally, Cheyenne and Nitro return to help their friend and the final showdown ensues.

Although Scott and Trevor are top-billed, this is really Ford's movie. He and Williams form the usual western type hero and sidekick and Keyes is the real heroine. Scott and Trevor are really in supporting roles although Trevor does have a couple of good scenes. Irving Bacon provides some comic relief as the nervous saloon keeper. Also, watch for western veterans Francis Ford and Bud Osborne as townsmen and Glenn Strange as one of Nedell's henchmen.

A fast-paced and entertaining western.
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8/10
Not a "B" Western
aimless-468 August 2006
"The Desperadoes" (1943) is a genuine classic, not for its story (which is fairly routine), but for its technical production elements. This was a landmark western, the biggest ever at the time of its release and all the more unique because it was a Columbia production-a lightweight studio with a bottom feeding reputation. Only Fox's "Jesse James" (also starring Randolph Scott) from a few years earlier gave anywhere near this lavish a treatment to the genre. Although it would be eclipsed in a few years by "The Searchers" and "High Noon", "The Desperadoes" was a ground breaking effort and a historical treasure.

In 1863, the economy in the town of Red Valley, Utah is based on rounding up and selling wild horses to the Union Army. The script gets a little messed up here with references to the railroad (which was several years away in Utah's future) and Custer's Last Stand (Custer was busy fighting Stuart in Pennsylvania at the time) but these are not important plot elements.

Red Valley has an honest sheriff, Steve Upton (Scott), but the banker and several citizens are corrupt; robbing their own bank each time the government pays for a herd of horses. The town is visited by Cheyenne Rogers (Glenn Ford), a famous outlaw who is an old friend Steve's. He wants to go straight, especially after falling for the pretty livery stable owner Alison McLeod (Evelyn Keyes). Cheyenne's partner "Nitro" Rankin (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams) is mainly there for comic relief as are Uncle Willie McLeod (Edgar Buchanan) and the town judge (Raymond Walburn who models his character on Frank Morgan's "Wizard of Oz" crystal ball faker).

Taking no chances with their huge budget Columbia packed this thing with tons of action and every western movie element but Indians and covered wagons. There is the best wild horse stampede ever filmed, a spectacular barroom brawl, an explosive climax, romance, and three-strip Technicolor. All this stuff doesn't necessarily fit together but who would have cared back in 1943. Unity is a problem as it tries to be both a serious action western and a comedy.

The cinematography was probably the best ever at the time of its filming. The indoor scenes are solid but it is the naturalistic outdoor photography that is truly impressive; both the lyrical static shots and the moving camera filming of the action sequences.

Scott and Claire Trevor were top billed, but the studio clearly wanted to promote Ford, who would soon be their biggest star. And Director Charles Vidor utilized the film to showcase his new wife Keyes (whose portrayal of Scarlett's sister in "Gone With the Wind" had connected with audiences more than any small part in the history of films).

The Ford-Keyes dynamic is "The Desperadoes" most unique and important feature. Rather than go for the cliché "love triangle" with Scott and/or Trevor (which it first appears will happen), the entire romantic focus is on the two younger actors. This was probably the best role Keyes ever got and she makes the most of it. Playing a tomboyish but extremely sexy young woman who looks great in both leather pants and dresses, and who rides and fights like Kiera Knightley's character in "Pirates of the Caribbean". This was revolutionary at the time and coincided with the 1942 formation of the WAAC for WWII military service.

"The Desperadoes" is one film that has been well taken care of and the print looks like it is brand new. Unfortunately there are no special features on the DVD.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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8/10
The color is impressive , good story, good action.
Probably because this is Columbia's first film in color, the colors look different specially in the indoor scenes. They seem to be stronger, sharper and the result is a bit unrealistic, but very pleasing. Randolph Scott is the sheriff, a good guy but the real star of the movie is a very young Glenn Ford, who is an outlaw that wants to change. Evelyn Keyes is the woman that starts falling for Ford and Claire Trevor is the Countess that runs the saloon. There is a funny character called Nitro that does not think twice before blowing it. I particularly enjoyed two moments of the film, one when there is a tremendous horse stampede and you see thousands of horses, there was no computer to help at that time, so I presume they must have gathered all those horses, no easy task. Another moment is the final shootout, technically very good. There is also quite a fistfight. Seeing this western made in 1943 with such great action scenes, makes you come to a sad conclusion: They don't make them anymore. Would they be able to in case they wanted? I have my doubts.
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5/10
Third billed Glenn Ford gets the build-up treatment but Edgar Buchanan steals the show
Terrell-411 August 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This oater is standard issue with a clever setup. It's 1863 in the small ranching community of Red Valley, Utah. Robbers bust into the Clanton Bank but find no money. They kill a couple of townsmen during their getaway. Then we find out -- this is no spoiler -- it was a clever plot engineered by the respectable Stanley Clanton (Porter Hall), the banker, and the well-liked Uncle Willie McLeod (Edgar Buchanan), the feed and livery owner. Clanton had taken the money first. The bank robbery was for show. Clanton then paid off the bank robbers with a substantial cut. He offers to help the bank's customers by paying 50 cents on each dollar stolen...using their own money. The two criminal scalawags keep $80,000 and they can remain in town as leading citizens, with Clanton a civic hero. However, they didn't count on Cheyenne Rogers (Glenn Ford), a gunslinger with a history they'd hired to lead the robbers in a no-shooting robbery, showing up late. Banker Clanton decided not to wait. That's why some really bad guys were used for the job. They also didn't count on Sheriff Steve Upton (Randolph Scott), being such a lawman of integrity. And they didn't count on Countess Maletta (Claire Trevor), who runs Red Valley's gambling house and fancy hotel, knowing Cheyenne's real story. And they didn't count on Cheyenne, when he does show up, wanting to stick around so he can get to know Uncle Willie's daughter, Allison (Evelyn Keyes), better and change his ways...or that Steve and Cheyenne have known each other for quite a while...or that....

Scott, Trevor and Buchanan keep it interesting. The Technicolor is rich and not too garish. There's lot's of scenery. The production values are first-class. There are gunfights, chases through canyons, a grand, smash-'em-up-fight in the saloon, a trial, a jail breakout and a first-class stampede of wild horses down Red Valley's main street. The drawbacks are a plot stuffed with clichés and some tiresome comedy from Raymond Walburn as a judge and Guinn Williams as Ford's sidekick. The most interesting part of the movie is seeing how Columbia made sure this vehicle served to groom Glenn Ford as the young actor they were placing their bets on for money-making stardom. Randolph Scott and Claire Trevor get top billing, but they wind up playing support for Ford.

Glenn Ford at 27 looks ten years younger, a kid who uses too much hair oil. Close your eyes, however, and listen to his voice. He knows what he's doing and he sounds authoritative well beyond how young he looks. After Gilda in 1946, made right after he was discharged, he starred in any number of Columbia movies. It wasn't until 1955, in my opinion, with Blackboard Jungle and Trial, followed by Ransom! and Jubal in 1956, that Ford finally made it to super stardom. At last his looks had aged to match his voice and skill at projecting manly integrity. The surprise is that he had such a flair for laid-back comedy, as in The Sheepman, and that when he chose to play a bad guy, as in 3:10 to Yuma, he was just as good.
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7/10
Funny and Entertaining Western
Claudio Carvalho6 May 2016
The bank of Red Valley, a small town in Utah, is robbed by a gang and three residents are murdered during the heist. However the corrupt banker Stanley Clanton (Porter Hall) has plotted the heist with the owner of the local stable, Uncle Willie McLeod (Edgar Buchanan), and the rancher Jack Lester (Bernard Nedell) and his gang. Sheriff Steve Upton (Randolph Scott) is out of town investigating the holdup and is surprised by the wanted outlaw Cheyenne Rogers (Glenn Ford). The gunman that was hired by Stanley but arrived late for the heist, steals his horse and heads to Red Valley. In the stable, the daughter of Uncle Willie, Allison McLeod (Evelyn Keyes), recognizes the horse and rescues the sheriff from the wilderness. Meanwhile Cheyenne meets Countess Maletta (Claire Trevor) and his friend Nitro Rankin (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams). The Countess is the owner of the local saloon and suffers from unrequited love for him, and feels guilty for the crime life of Cheyenne that committed his first murder to protect her ranch. When Steve returns to Red Valley and sees Cheyenne, he feels happy to see his old friend and Allison falls in love with Cheyenne. But Sheriff Steve is getting close to Jack Lester and now Stanley Clanton masterminds a plan to incriminate Cheyenne for robbing the bank. Will he succeed?

"The Desperadoes" is a funny and entertaining western directed by Charles Vidor and with a great cast highlighting the names of Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor and a young Glenn Ford. The story combines western, comedy and action in right doses and there are amazing scenes like for example the stampede. There is also a great message of friendship. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Império da Desordem" ("Empire of Mayhem")
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9/10
Great Color, Great Action, Great Movie
FightingWesterner11 December 2009
Glenn Ford is hired by a crooked bank owner and wily stable owner Edger Buchanan to stage a fake robbery while the banker hides the real loot. With Ford a no-show, the two instead go with a trigger happy second choice, leaving Ford on the hook for killings he didn't commit.

Columbia Pictures' first color feature, The Desperadoes looks fantastic with sets and costumes fabricated to take full advantage of the Technicolor process accentuating tons of well staged western spectacle.

This has the irresistible teaming of a young Glenn Ford (third-billed but essentially the star) and a prime Randolph Scott leading an incredible supporting cast of great character actors in colorful roles, including scene-stealer Edger Buchanan as a good-natured but mildly villainous yokel who isn't as dumb as he looks and who has quite a few memorable lines.

A fairly complex script effectively mixes incredible action sequences, melodrama, and comedy, well directed by Charles Vidor. This is one of the great westerns of the nineteen-forties and highly recommended.
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It's all here, folks!
misspaddylee11 February 2007
Ladies and gentlemen, is the daily grind getting you down? Do you want a good, old-fashioned oater to fill in the early evening hours? Well, it's all here for you folks in Charles Vidor's 1943 production "The Desperadoes".

You've got your stalwart lawman (Randolph Scott), your good bad guy (Glenn Ford), the spunky romantic interest (Evelyn Keyes), the tough but tender saloon hostess (Claire Trevor) and the not-too-bright sidekick (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams). You've got gorgeous Technicolor, stampedes, bronco riding, shady businessmen and an explosion or two! So, pop that corn and melt that butter. What's that? You want more, folks? You want scene stealers? Well, seeing as it's you, we have two of the greatest. Mr. Edgar Buchanan and Mr. Raymond Walburn will commit grand larceny before your very eyes.

So, sit back and relax, ladies and gentlemen. It's all here!
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Fine Western
derekparry5 December 2002
Blimey, this movie is nearly 60 years old. As it's filmed in "glorious technicolour" it gives it a much more modern feel. The story is of some 'insider trading' at the local bank and the need to bring those responsible to justice.

There are some fine performances throughout and the mix of drama and comedy (featuring great stuff from 'Nitro' and the bartender) is spot on. The story is a good one and it is entertaining from start to finish. Definitely a superior Western.
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7/10
The Scarecrow reviews "The Desperadoes"
Scarecrow-888 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is simply a good ole fashioned western..not overly complex or long. It doesn't deceive itself in thinking that it was made but for entertainment. Still, it is one of those westerns you can watch once and be done with without returning. It features former partners Randolph Scott and Glenn Ford whose friendship is strong despite the fact that Ford's Cheyenne Rogers has been part of bank robbing(he even steals Scott's Sheriff Steve Upton's horse without knowing it his good friend for which he is thieving). In Red valley, Upton is under heavy scrutiny for a bank robbing that ended with several dead. Claire Trvor portrays Countess Maletta, a friend of Cheyenne's who gives he and buddy "Nitro"(Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams)a place to stay for the time being. Cheyenne desires to go straight, but finds that hard when Jack Lester(Bernard Nedell)and his bad bunch want to rob Red Valley's bank. It is actually Jack who is behind the murders, but Cheyenne's troubled past is hard to get away from. He and Nitro will be charged with the murders they didn't commit(the robbery was one Cheyenne didn't commit)and it will be Upton who must somehow save the day before Lester gets away with murder. There are sub-plots which include Cheyenne's falling in love with Alison McLeod{Evelyn Keyes;the irony of the story is that Alison's father, Uncle Willie, is actually in cahoots with Banker Stanley Clanton(Porter Hall)in a planned united theft with Lester to steal the town of Red Valley's loot}. Will Upton uncover Uncle Willie and Banker Clanton's treacherous scheme? Will Uncle Willie be able to go through it without his conscience always bothering him? This film has a terrific barroom brawl and a dandy of a climactic shootout. Columbia couldn't have picked a better genre to begin the coloring process as this film has some fine mountainous shots as men give chase on horseback and such. Don't expect to get your socks blown off, but the film is simple and well paced.
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7/10
What a Fellow Does For a Friend
bkoganbing31 August 2006
Randolph Scott and Glenn Ford were once outlaw pals together, but now Scott's a sheriff and young Ford is still hiring his gun out. He gets hired to pull a bank job, but is delayed getting to town and those that hired him get someone else. That leads to all kinds of complications, a lot for a film that's not even 90 minutes long.

Randy and Glenn both got girls here. Claire Trevor plays her usual good time gal with a heart of gold. And Evelyn Keyes is the daughter of Edgar Buchanan who falls for Ford big time without realizing who he is or why he came to the town that Scott is the sheriff in.

It's B western, but unusual for the time and for Columbia Pictures it was given the full technicolor treatment. The Desperadoes marked Glenn Ford's first film in technicolor, a process reserved only for some of the more expensive films from bigger studios. Harry Cohn was certainly not one to shell out for it. And definitely not during war time.

The plot gets a bit convoluted as both Ford and Scott are put to the test of friendship versus expediency/duty. The plot also involves some high class hypocritical skunks in Randy's town who are the real outlaws as far as the film is concerned.

The four leads do a fine job and the best supporting performance is Guinn Williams as Ford's lovable explosive lunkhead of a sidekick. The climax involves a cattle stampede and a shootout in the town saloon and is one of the best ever done in a western film.

Fans of the four leads and westerns in general will enjoy this one.
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10/10
A Beautiful Movie
csp4610 August 2014
You won't see many movies as visually enjoyable as this 'un. Careful attention was given to weaving stunning color throughout the movie. The story is both enjoyable and believable and well acted. Cinematography is outstanding and may pass as a western "Film Noir" in some circles. Randolph Scott is at the top of his game physically and gives one of his finest performances. Glenn Ford is outstanding and seems to me to be a more dynamic player than I am accustomed to seeing in his movies. And Claire Trevor fans won't be disappointed either, although some of her costumes are a bit over the top! Wonderful production values and color worthy of an expressionist. Especially enjoyable is the beauty of Utah. Pay attention!
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5/10
B Western doesn't know if it's a drama or comedy.
RenoPeters16 August 2005
I'm sure this one was issued on DVD only because it was an early Glenn Ford movie. Both Charles Vidor (the director) and Ford made a much better film together a couple of years later with "Gilda".

The action is supposed to take place in 1863 in the Utah Territory. I guess all the history books are wrong because evidently the railroad was already there six years before the "Golden Spike" ceremony.

Halfway through the film, the action takes a turn during a barroom brawl and suddenly we are watching a comedy. I guess since WWII was being fought at the time, this movie was designed to offer some entertainment value for the troops abroad and the folks at home.

It's watchable but entirely forgettable. Much better westerns were made by Michael Curtiz a few years earlier along the same theme. So see "Dodge City" and "Virginia City" instead. Indeed, the latter features both Randolph Scott and "Big Boy" Williams who also appear in "The Desperadoes".
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7/10
Watch Randy ride!
schaffermatt542 February 2013
This movie's best assets are the shots of Randolph Scott sitting, almost motionlessly, astride a galloping horse. He was simply poetry in motion, along with Joel McCrea, Gary Cooper, and young Johnny Crawford. These four were the best horseback riders in filmed entertainment. You can stop reading right...HERE!

Since I have to include a minimum of 10 lines, let me continue by saying the worst horseback riders, IMHO, were John Wayne (ouch!) and Chuck Connors.

Coop's best scenes, I think, were in The Westerner and Northwest Mounted Police (both 1940). McCrea's were in Cattle Drive (1951), Wichita (1955), and Cattle Empire (1958). Scott's were in The Desperadoes (1943), Ft. Worth (1951), and one other I cannot recall. Strangely, none of his Boetticher pictures.

Connors was at his worst anytime his scenes in The Rifleman called for him to ride hell-for-leather for the ranch. Duke's were just about anytime he had to ride (oh, it hurts to say that - I just love John Wayne). There, I'm over the 10-line minimum.
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6/10
Lighthearted Western; Scott & Trevor Wasted
boscofl3 August 2016
Columbia's 1943 Western "The Desperadoes" is a diverting (albeit familiar) tale of a good outlaw trying to go straight. The film straddles the line between comedy and drama but ultimately falls on the side of humor. The tone of the film is a stark contrast to the Randolph Scott oaters of the 1950s; its lighthearted tone prevents it from becoming a memorable film.

Although the film headlines Scott and Claire Trevor they merely serve as bait to attract 1943 audiences to witness the buildup of third billed Glenn Ford. He triggers all the action scenes and enjoys the love of both Miss Trevor and the lovely Evelyn Keyes. His character, Cheyenne Rogers, is being set up for a bad end; he's basically a decent man that has been forced down the outlaw path by circumstance. He eventually decides to go straight when he falls for a girl (Miss Keyes) but events pull him back into a life of crime. Despite all the foreshadowing the movie's lighthearted tone allows him to skirt his inevitable fate and ride off to a happy ending.

Filmed in Technicolor, the movie looks gorgeous and is further aided by a lack of process shots. The principals are clearly riding horses in the close shots and that certainly adds an air of authenticity. The action scenes, particularly a barroom brawl and the climactic horse stampede, are expertly handled.

Ford is solid but not spectacular as the good badman; not an abundance of star potential is displayed. Evelyn Keyes looks great in a tomboyish role and is easily believable as the love interest. Claire Trevor is wasted but she is always a joy to have around. Irving Bacon has some genuinely funny moments as a beleaguered bartender desperately trying to salvage his establishment which gets destroyed twice. Edward Pawley, taking a break from playing cons and hoods at Warners, is on hand as a mustachioed deputy and future Frankenstein Monster Glenn Strange enacts one of the villains.

Two performers deserve special mention. One of my personal favorites, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, portrays Ford's pal. Williams has to be one of the best sidekicks ever and has several hilarious moments. Perhaps his best is when he gallops up to Ford pulling his buddy's horse behind him. When the now-reformed outlaw Ford inquires what the rush is Williams simply informs him he's just robbed a bank. Ford almost blows a gasket as he's now forced to hightail it out of town.

The second notable performance is turned in by Edgar Buchanan. He is the father of Miss Keyes and also involved in Bank Manager Porter Hall's scheme to rob his own institution. As the plot unfolds he's forced into allowing Ford to be framed for the crime in order to protect himself. Buchanan expertly straddles the line between drama and comedy as his conscience slowly weighs him down.

As for top billed Randolph Scott, the film provides another bland, asexual hero part. He doesn't have much to do except counsel Ford and cheerfully steer him into the arms of a woman (Miss Keyes) that he probably wants for himself. The fact that both leading ladies have no interest in Scott is pretty remarkable for a supposed star.

All in all "The Desperadoes" is an entertaining film and can be enjoyed if one doesn't expect much from Scott or Miss Trevor.
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Highly Entertaining
dougdoepke16 March 2011
Highly enjoyable Western with better than average character twists. Columbia was never a big-budget studio like MGM or TCF. But they did like Westerns. So it's not surprising Columbia got into Technicolor with this scenic, well-produced horse opera. Looks like they were angling for the broadest possible audience with not one leading lady, but two (Keyes & Trevor). Ditto with the leading men (Scott & Ford). Add the great Edgar Buchanan in the kind of slippery role he did so well, plus the hulking Big Boy Williams and blowhard Raymond Walburn, and you've got an excellent supporting cast.

It's a really entertaining mix of action, shifting loyalties, humor, plus a dash of romance. The plot's a little shopworn—two old friends find themselves on opposite sides of the law, but the rivalry is well done. Several scenes are standouts—the wild horse stampede nicely framed against the dramatic Utah background, the judge's comical idea of frontier justice, and the tongue-in- cheek barroom brawl. All in all, director Vidor blends the many different elements into a pretty smooth package.

I may be wrong, but I don't think many A-budget Westerns were produced during WWII. Action films were generally war films promoting the Allies cause. This movie, I think, is one of the few elaborate oaters of the period. And a good one it still is.
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8/10
All around good western
samhill52159 March 2011
Just about everything is right with this western. Everything looks authentic and feels right as one might expect from a Max Brand story. The lines are good too and every major character has several. This is very much a cooperative effort. All four major characters are leads and they work well together. There's plenty of action, some of it comedic as in the very last shootout scene. The story goes right along, all of it interesting and with plenty of tangents. All in all a very smart movie, perhaps not Oscar material but nonetheless very worthy of its genre. I should add that I like all four leads so that was a treat too. They all played to their strengths, masterful Scott, innocent Keyes, troubled Ford and complicated Trevor, but were far from stereotypical. They were full and multifaceted personalities, thanks to Max Brand. Shouldn't miss it.
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Mix of western and comedy that doesn't totally work but is OK
bob the moo7 December 2003
When the bank is robbed in town the result is murder. However behind closed doors the whole robbery was organised by the bank manager and several other important townsfolk – the murder happening because their first choice man for the job didn't show up. When the man does turn up it is too late, but it turns out Cheyenne is also a friend of the sheriff, Steve. When Cheyenne meets Alison, he turns over a new leaf and decides to go straight, however not only does his past start to catch him up, but the real robbers decide to frame Cheyenne for the crime. The whole thing puts stress on the friendship between Steve and Cheyenne.

With the veteran Randolph Scott in the lead role I decided this western was worth a try. The plot starts out quite serious – a top level plot to swindle money out of the bank's customers but the plot is a little complicated by a series of rather convoluted plot devices (the most unlikely of which being the man who was meant to do the job, turning up late, being a friend of the sheriff and then changing his ways). This unlikely events sort of mess the film around a little bit but not too badly. After a while the film develops a sense of mocking humour that almost makes it a spoof of sorts – this is best seen in the bar fight where poker players continue regardless of one of their players being knocked out and the barman desperate to keep his business in good condition just long enough to sell it! These little comic touches are quite unexpected and pretty welcome as it really helps lighten up the film and make it more enjoyable.

The cast are OK but are also helped by the humour of the film. For leading man, Scott has almost a supporting role to play and does very little. Glenn Ford's Cheyenne has more screen time and is really the leading character. He does well with it and is quite charismatic in the role. Support is not great but is pretty enjoyable – especially those characters whose roles are more about laughs than anything else. Added to the comedy are a couple of good fight scenes, a stampede and a final shoot out. Not all of these work that well but they help keep the light-hearted tone of the film.

Overall, not a great western but quite fun to watch. It may not all work but the tone of gentle, almost self-mocking humour really helps it to be enjoyable.
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8/10
i thought it was a good western
disdressed125 April 2008
i liked this western Starring Randolph Scoot and Glenn Ford.it's got pretty much everything a western should have.there's gunfights,action,chases on horseback.there's a bit of a romance angle that's hinted at.there's some nice comic relief in the form of Edgar Buchanan,who plays Uncle Willie McLeod,a character who pretend to be a doddering old fool,but is actually aware of everything going on.Randolph Scott plays the town Sheriff,and Glenn Ford Plays Cheyenne Rogers/Bill Smith,a hunted outlaw who eventually tries to change his ways.i liked the different mix of characters in the movie.i didn't find it always fast paced,but i never found it boring either.even though the movie is in 1943,it is in colour. 8/10
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7/10
Randolph Scott somehow seems a bit lost...but it's still a very good western.
MartinHafer21 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
As far was westerns go, this is a pretty good one. Despite some familiar story elements, there is enough new and different to set it apart from the crowd--even if it was a bit of a disappointment when it came to Randolph Scott (and I am a huge fan of this wonderful actor and his westerns).

When the film began, I was a bit surprised. While it was produced by Columbia, it surprisingly was in full-color--something you wouldn't expect from this second-string studio. This is surprising also because up until this film, Columbia hadn't made any color films--why they chose to do this with a western and not one of their prestige films is beyond me.

The film begins with a bank robbery in which several locals are shot. However, it turns out that the crooked bank owner (Porter Hall)actually staged it himself--so he could pocket much of the money himself. His friend (Edgar Buchanan) is in on this, but is angry that people were hurt and even killed in this staged holdup--but Buchanan can't tell anyone, as he was involved.

A short time later, the Sheriff (Randolph Scott) is on his way into town when he is jumped and his horse is taken. Eventually, Scott makes it into town and he catches up to the horse thief--who he never actually saw face-to-face (and vice-versa). They start fighting in a dark corral and after Scott is beaten, something cool happens that almost never happens in film--sweet Evelyn Keyes is standing nearby during the fight. Instead of just standing there looking scared (a typical cliché), she smacks the guy (Glenn Ford) over the head with a bucket--knocking him out in the process! I love a woman like this in a film! Well, despite this klunk on the head, it turns out Ford is an old friend of Scott! And, soon Keyes falls in love with Ford! Now this is all complicated by Ford's past--he's a gunfighter who was forced to a life on the run. However, he isn't BAD--he was just forced into this by circumstances. And, now that he's in town, the baddies figure he's a convenient scapegoat for the robbery--and they do their best to get Ford hung. Scott is in a bind--he IS the sheriff but he can't just let them hang a friend. How all this is worked out is for you to see--I really don't want to spoil it.

In the film, there are a few things to look for. First, as the stereotypical partner, we have Guinn Williams--a fella with an odd penchant for using nitroglycerin! Second, the film has one of the coolest shootouts I've ever seen between Hall and Buchanan. I certainly have NEVER seen a fight like this one and was probably more typical of a real old west shootout! Overall, not a great film but it looks nice in color, has some nice scenes and is enjoyable. The only major deficit is that although Scott receives top billing, he really is more of a supporting character and has little chance for character development--a definite negative for fans who want the Scott of his later westerns (where he has a lot more depth).
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7/10
"Now we've got two men here to hang, but we're gonna do it by the law".
classicsoncall10 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Anyone know what the filmmakers were going for here? Judging by the fair amount of positive reviews the movie has it's following, but I chalk that up to Columbia's technical achievement with it's cinematography and color format. Around the time the picture made it's way to the half way point, it felt like it was turning the corner on drama and going for comedy. I guess Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams has to take some credit for that, but how in the world did his character Nitro Rankin come up with the idea to rob the Red Valley Bank? It sure came as a surprise to his buddy Cheyenne (Glenn Ford), who would have robbed it in the first place if he had only gotten to the town a little sooner. Adding to the comic element of the story, Cheyenne uses one of those Yosemite Sam lines from the then current Warner Brothers cartoons of the era; he says to Red Valley sheriff Steve Upton (Randolph Scott) - "...if you make one false move, I'm gonna blast ya"! It was pretty much right there I decided I didn't have to pay real close attention to the story any more. And besides, I was waiting to find out who was wearing the hammered silver rowel spur that the Sheriff made a big deal about when the story opened. Turns out the script went as clueless about that as much as old Uncle Willie. One thing you shouldn't do with Edgar Buchanan is make him a conflicted character. Yeah, he saved the day for Red Valley by taking out skunk banker Clanton (Porter Hall), but I wonder if he gave back his share of the take.
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8/10
Don't Be Desperate
Richie-67-4858526 August 2017
It's a Western and those are so enjoyable especially since the formula was well known but the stories always changed using of course the old reliable mix of saloons, drinking, whiskey, sheriffs, bad guys, good guys, love interest and scenery, Indians and music. This movie throws in a nice round-up of horses that I do believe I have never seen to this degree in any movie I have watched. It appears they went all out making this as real as it gets. Scott makes for a good actor in Westerns but here he doesn't grab the center spot but only adds to the movie plot. Glen ford makes an appearance along with some other known faces too. I always enjoy when they mention large sums of money in these old Westerns. Why? Thousands of dollar back then is a fortune and we tend to forget this while watching. It could buy a town, large spreads of land, cattle and all the help you needed to live a comfortable life for the rest of your life. Consider that you can make it honestly or do what many did because they could i.e. steal it! Imagine one good theft and you are set-up for life with the usual catch; Don't get caught and don't do it again something thieves ended up doing. Nice little ride-along here with a decent ending too. Watch this with a sandwich, beef jerky or some ribs with a tasty drink. Favorite candy on standby. Mount-up and let's ride into town! I'm buying
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7/10
Agreeable from start to finish.
Scott LeBrun13 December 2016
Randolph Scott is the star of this diverting Western, playing the sheriff of a small town. His old friend Cheyenne Rogers, alias Bill Smith (Glenn Ford), is an outlaw who's newly arrived in town. Cheyenne was hired to rob a bank...that has already been robbed! Cheyennes' reputation dictates that he will fall under suspicion, despite his best efforts to go straight.

There's much to enjoy here, in this, Columbia Pictures' first Technicolor Western. The color photography is lovely, and helps the movie to feel more modern than many other Westerns of the era. Robert Carson wrote the screenplay, based on an original story by Max Brand, and it's quite easy to follow and involving every step of the way. The script has its fair share of quotable lines, a number of them spoken by scene stealer Edgar Buchanan, playing "Uncle" Willie McLeod, a mildly villainous but still likable character. There's a romantic triangle between Sheriff Steve, Cheyenne, and local gal Allison (pretty Evelyn Keyes), the daughter of Willie. Best of all, director Charles Vidor maintains a wonderful balancing act of drama and some genuinely funny comedy, including a show stopping barroom brawl (one of the classic tropes of this genre). The cast features some delightfully colorful characters, brought to life by a very fine cast.

Mr. Scott is engaging as the easygoing lead, a man who will do right by his old friend, even it means not adhering to the strict letter of the law. However, "The Desperadoes" often functions more as a vehicle for the excellent Ford, as the plot tends to revolve a little more around Cheyenne. In addition to Buchanan, another performer who regularly dominates his scenes is lively Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams as an outlaw nicknamed 'Nitro' for his preferred tool of his trade. Bernard Nedell is appropriately odious as a lowlife named Jack Lester, Raymond Walburn is hilarious as a doddering old judge, Porter Hall is good as dubious banker Stanley Clanton, and a glamorous Claire Trevor makes the most of her role as The Countess, with whom Cheyenne associated as a child.

First rate action - such as a climactic stampede - helps to make this solid entertainment for 87 minutes.

Seven out of 10.
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5/10
A mixture movie.
Brian Ellis20 October 2002
At times this movie seemed aimed towards kids but then there are things in the movie that don't seem age appropriate. For example, the barroom brawl: Nitro and the bartender are definitely played for laughs but Glenn Ford's fight is rather brutal. The message that obey the law until it gets in the way also makes me a little uneasy (of course our heroes were right in doing that but I still don't know). The cast is a good one for a B-western: Randolph Scott plays the usual stand-up guy, Edgar Buchanan and Raymond Walburn play their usual roles (except the fact that Buchanan's Uncle Willie isn't what he seems, is a little disconcerting). The only one that really doesn't work well is Claire Trevor, she didn't convince me as the town madam. The horse stampede was well executed and a clever idea. The movie moves along nicely and the romance does make sense, its just that westerns like this one always make me wonder who the intended audience was.
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7/10
It had potential...not good enough to be an A pic, not bad enough to be a B pic
vincentlynch-moonoi5 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I guess that even in the 1940s, Westerns were just slapped together, sometimes not making much sense. For example, the film begins with a bank being robbed, and when the safe is blown open, all the men at the saloon -- directly across the street -- run out so they can get shot by the bank robbers. Yeah, that makes sense. There's a barroom brawl that's full of laughs, yet important to the plot; the comedy is out of place in this drama. "Nitro" (the sidekick) robs a bank...which makes no sense. The escape scene from the jail is more comedy...which makes no sense. And so it goes with this and many other Westerns. Not a lot of care taken.

That's not to say this is a "bad" Western, but it could have been much better. Especially when you consider the cast -- Randolph Scott (the sheriff), Claire Trevor (saloon owner), Glenn Ford (the "good" outlaw), Evelyn Keyes (stable owner...supporting actress in "Gone With The Wind"), Edgar Buchanan (crooked but likable), and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams (the doofus sidekick); in other words almost all the Western stereotypes you can imagine. Although billed third, Glenn Ford probably gets the most out of his performance.

The picture excels when it comes to its Technicolor -- the first Technicolor film done at Columbia Pictures. And, much of the outdoor scenery was filmed on location near Kanab, Utah, not that far from Zion National Park, and it shows! Probably the best aspect of the film.

Bottom line: It's not good enough to be an "A" picture (other than the Technicolor), but it's better than the average "B" picture. If you like Westerns, it's worth watching...once. If Westerns are not your bag, stay away. Barely a "7".
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