Engineer Johnny Munroe is enlisted to build a railroad tunnel through a mountain to reach mines. His task is complicated, and his ethics are compromised, when he falls in love with his ... See full summary »
Engineer Johnny Munroe is enlisted to build a railroad tunnel through a mountain to reach mines. His task is complicated, and his ethics are compromised, when he falls in love with his boss's daughter. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the closing scenes where the engine and the bridge span fall into the torrent below, Johnny (John Wayne) escapes by running along the tops of the wagons. It is obviously a stunt man since his body shape and hair are different from that of John Wayne's. See more »
There are lots of good elements here. There's great cinematography. The sets are big and look cool. Most of the actors are pros giving fine performances, including the ubiquitous Anthony Quinn, Edith Anderson, Cedric Hardwicke, and James Gleason. The Special Effects are top quality for 1947 with about 8 explosive mine blasts/cave ins and a good flood.
There are however two elements which blasts this movie to smithereens: the script and John Wayne.
The script has the John Wayne character doing absurd and reckless things. For example, he falls in love with Lorraine Day, the daughter of his boss, at first sight while being drunk. Her father orders him to stay away, but he is so horny for her, that he risks his own livelihood and the livelihood of dozens of men working for him to see her again. This just makes the character seem stupid. The stupidity kicks into high gear when he secretly meets her and drives off with her without telling anyone. Her father, fearing that she has met with an accident, rightfully, organizes a posse to look for his daughter.
If Wayne's behavior is stupid in the first half of the film, his character turns destructive and obnoxious in the second half. He becomes fanatical about his building projects and alienates all his friends. In the hands of a capable actor like Gable or Bogart, this good guy turns bad role might have been interesting, but Wayne only knows how to play bad by looking constipated and scowling. He delivers his lines pretty much the same with a bitter, don't mess with me, hombre, tone throughout.
Actually, there is one scene where Wayne does act well. The father/boss says to Wayne that he might have to "break Him" if he sees his daughter again. Wayne looks genuinely angry like he's been kicked and walks out of the room. Unfortunately, this is an exception, and in most scenes he just looks tired and gives a one sour note performance.
I have watched about 50 Wayne films, only about 1/3 of his total, but I can not remember him being this bad in any of them. Therefore, I can't even recommend it for Wayne fans. This was the most expensive film RKO made until 1947 and also its biggest money loser. I can only recommend it for disaster movie fans and movie buffs who want to see major film disasters.
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