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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
Back in the day William Holden and Glenn Ford both had a unique contractual arrangement with Columbia Pictures. When unknown Bill Holden was up for the lead in Golden Boy, Harry Cohn cast him in return for Paramount selling 50% of his services to Columbia. Holden served two studio masters at the time he was making The Man from Colorado and would for another decade.
Glenn Ford was Columbia's bread and butter leading man at the time and right after The Man From Colorado, Cohn sold half of Ford's contract to MGM and Ford also had two studio masters.
What it meant for these two was that all projects had to be cleared through both studios and that Holden and Ford if they did an outside loan out would also have to be cleared from both. Not that their respective studios didn't keep both these guys very busy.
Holden and Ford had done a well received western, Texas, for Columbia back in 1941. Texas was a rather lighthearted film about two cowboys turning to different sides of the law in post Civil War Texas, though it did feature the death of one of them.
The Man from Colorado is also a story about the activities of Union Army war veterans. But The Man from Colorado doesn't have any light moments whatsoever. It's pretty grim tale about one of them developing a real taste for sadism and killing as a result of the war.
Ford's the sadist here, it's one of the few villain parts he ever did and it works I think because he is so against type. He did very few parts like this, Lust for Gold is another, but his public wouldn't accept him in these roles.
Some of the town businessmen led by Ray Collins just look at the war record and decide Ford would make one fine federal judge. A real law and order type. They get a lot more than they bargain for.
In Texas Holden had the showier role of the young cowboy who take the outlaw route. Here however he's the best friend who stands by his former commanding officer even though he both sees the man has issues and Holden loses Ellen Drew to Ford. Holden takes the outlaw path after giving up his marshal's job when Ford starts running roughshod over due process.
The other really standout performance in this film is that of James Milliken who plays one of Ford's former soldiers who turns outlaw and in fact humiliates him in one of the few funny moments in The Man From Colorado. Ford conceives a burning hate for him that results in tragedy all around.
Ford and Holden were considering another joint project in 1981 when Holden died. I would like to have seen that one come to pass.
Try to see The Man From Colorado back to back with Texas.
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