Two friends return home after their discharge from the army after the Civil War. However, one of them has had deep-rooted psychological damage due to his experiences during the war, and as ... See full summary »
Two friends return home after their discharge from the army after the Civil War. However, one of them has had deep-rooted psychological damage due to his experiences during the war, and as his behavior becomes more erratic--and violent--his friend desperately tries to find a way to help him. Written by
Colorado was a large, booming territory in 1865. It did not enter the union until eleven years later, and as the only new state to get admission in 1876 it has the right to remain our "Centennial" State (for the centennial of the Declaration of Independence). In the Civil War there were few engagements in Colorado, but one that did stick out was a massacre (there is no other way of putting it) of Indians by a Colonel Chivington at Sands Creek. Chivington's daughter had been raped by an Indian, and he took advantage of a relatively mild act of legal disobedience by the Indians to kill a good number of them.
"The Man From Colorado" is not dealing directly with the Sands Creek Massacre (no Indians are involved in the story). Instead, Chivington's character is transferred to Glenn Ford, who in the closing days of the Civil War perpetrates a similar atrocity, this time on surrendering Confederates. Ford and his friend William Holden have been through the whole war together, but Holden has managed to retain a sense of balance despite the horrors he has seen. Ford is on a slippery slope. Even after the atrocity he is still aware of his act of cruelty and writes in his diary about it. He can't control himself anymore.
Unfortunately his war record stands him well with the richest men in the territory, especially Ray Collins. Collins has managed to get control of the claims that should be used to pay the ex-Union troops. He wants a strong man to be the Federal judge of Colorado territory. Who better than the no-nonsense Ford? So Ford gets the judicial position. Holden has lost his old girlfriend (Ellen Drew) to Ford, but he remains a friend. However he and Drew are increasingly aware of Ford's mental instability. So is everyone (except Ray Collins), as Ford keeps giving the most draconian decisions from the bench. In particular to his former soldiers, now fighting to get back their claims. This, of course leads to their becoming bandits. A vicious cycle, of course. Holden and Drew may be able to break it - Drew has seen Ford's diary.
In the wake of World War II's returning men, and the many suffering psychological trauma, "The Man From Colorado" was a timely film. Ford never played a psychotic type as well as here. Holden (actually in a supporting role - before his burst into super stardom) is a great balance to Ford. Rains performs well as do most of the cast. And by the time the holocaust unleashed by Ford's appointment to the bench is finished, even Ray Collins wishes he never was dumb enough to put this man on the bench.
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