While tailing a murder suspect, private detective Frazee follows the suspect into a poker game. When one of the players reveals he knows the location of a lost wagon train full of gold, everyone in the game is suddenly bound up in an expedition into the desert to find the treasure. But heat, sand, wind, and the revelation of personal secrets combine to threaten not only the treasure hunt but the lives of the hunters as well. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a really interesting picture. In almost all respects it represents a transition from 1940's film noir to 1950's new age angst - in buckskin and boots.
It stars a diverse group of slightly shady characters who accidentally meet up in a Mexican border town and stumble across a possible fortune out in the desert. The supporting cast is first rate with John Ireland, Edgar Buchanan (as the grizzled old prospector), William Bishop, and Arthur Kennedy. The lead is Randolph Scott with the luscious Ella Raines as the love interest. Too many people underestimate Randolph Scott. They describe his acting as robotic or wooden. His range as microscopic. I even have a brother who questions his sexual orientation. I think he is underrated. He represents, to me, an all American hero in the mold of John Wayne. Whether he's in fatigues or in the saddle, his steely eyed, square jawed performance always adds something to the production. Ella Raines likewise managed to create a smoldering, sexy presence in way too many second rate movies.
This is a contemporary Western (1949) with a clearly modern twist. Not just a falling out between thieves, but an intricate, complicated plot with lots of flashbacks and character development. Most of the principal players spend valuable time beating themselves up for mistakes they made. For a bunch of coyoots, they seem to be mighty introspective. Yet, it doesn't seem to detract from the overall tension built in to the story.
I won't go into the finale, but if you liked Treasure of the Sierra Madre and you're fascinated by the legend of The Lost Dutchman Mine, tune in. You won't be disappointed.
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