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Since 1945 when Randolph Scott decided to concentrate almost exclusively on westerns only one of his westerns was set in the modern west and that is this one, The Walking Hills. Shot on location the film holds it own with such gold hunting classics as The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre and Lust For Gold.
Sitting around a poker table one night Edgar Buchanan starts recounting a tale in which a wagon train loaded with sacks of gold dust got lost in the desert in the great Southwest. They're quite an assortment of characters in the place, they include at least one private detective in John Ireland and he's after one of the people in the room. But more than one of them has a reason to fear the law.
So all that were in that small barroom set out to the desert fueled by another story that Jerome Courtland tells about coming across an old wagon wheel that would have been contemporary with that gold train. Quite an assortment go besides those in the cast I've already mentioned the guys include William Bishop, Arthur Kennedy, Joe White, Russell Collins and Charles Stevens. Bishop adds an additional plot component, not only is he a suspect, but he's wooing Ella Raines who used to go out with Scott. As for Scott he's concerned with a mare in foal and he brings her along as well. Later on Ella Raines declares herself in on the gold hunt.
Although with a lot more cast members out in the desert some people's true nature starts to surface. Quite a few of the cast meets their doom. As for the gold, just about the same ironical ending as in The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre.
In a book on the Films of Randolph Scott there's a story told about Ella Raines's husband Ransom Olds who was an air ace from the recent war and would be one again in Korea and Vietnam. It seems as though for a joke he buzzed the company on location. He thought it was funny, but the roaring jet passing over frightened all the horses and the wranglers spent the rest of the day rounding them up. Ella was not amused either, nor I'm sure was Harry Cohn.
Not as good as Lust For Gold or The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, The Walking Hills still holds its own with the others and holds up well for today's audience. Greed is a timeless and universal theme.
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