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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Warner Bros. ROCKY MOUNTAIN (1950) is something of an underrated
western! Based on a real incident in 1865 and from a short story by
Alan LeMay the screenplay was written by LeMay and Winston Miller.
William Jacobs was producer and the solid direction was by William
Errol Flynn stars as a Confederate officer (his first time to do so) who with a small contingent of seven men travel 2000 miles to California to rendezvous with an outlaw who has promised to provide 500 men to join with them in the south's faltering struggle. But things don't quite work out as planned when after they rescue a girl from a stagecoach being attacked by marauding Indians they then have to contend with the girl's fiancé (a Union cavalry officer) leading a troop out to search for her. Following a series of complications Flynn - sacrificing himself and his men - divert the attacking Indians away so that the girl can be saved. The picture ends with Flynn and his meager army taking on and being overwhelmed by a large band of hostiles. The final chase and battle with the Indians in a blind canyon is marvellously executed and is the highlight of the movie! "They've seen our backs - let's show them our faces" declares Flynn. Then, greatly outnumbered, and assuming cavalry formation the valiant eight charge the advancing Indian horde only to be wiped out one by one. It is a powerful, spine-tingling and unforgettable sequence!
Although somewhat subdued Flynn gives a good and likable performance! This was to be his last appearance in a western and it was a good one to finish with. The female lead was taken by newcomer Patrice Wymore (in her second film) who replaced Lauren Bacall. Three weeks after the film wrapped Miss Wymore would become the third Mrs. Flynn. The film is fully fleshed out with splendid characters! Excellent is Scott Forbes as the formidable Union officer and the girl's fiancé, Slim Pickens in his first movie, Sheb Wooley, the likable Chubby Johnson as the Stage driver and Howard Petrie as the dubious and distrustful outlaw Cole Smith.
Beautifully photographed in Monochrome by ace cinematographer Ted McCord ("Treasure Of The Sierra Madre"/ "The Hanging Tree") in amazing location sites in and around Gallup, New Mexico the picture also boasts a brilliant score by the great Max Steiner. His music for the Indian sequences is nothing short of breathtaking especially for the stagecoach chase scene. And not forgetting his clever and utterly engaging music for the dog of one of Flynn's men, scored for Piccolo, Flute and strings, as it races after its owner who is at full gallop on horseback.
So all round a fine enjoyable movie that is nice to have on a DVD of exceptional picture quality. Extras include a commentary by one Thomas McNulty, the usual dispensable Warner Night At The Movies material but it does have trailers for "Rocky Mountain" and surprise...surprise the elusive and yet to be released (will it ever?) "The Breaking Point". "Rocky Mountain" is also part of a four movie western box set of Flynn which also contains "San Antonio", "Montana" and the excellent "Virginia City".
Nice one - Warner Home Video but where oh where is "Silver River"??
Errol Flynn was outstanding in this film. An underrated actor, if given
right material, Flynn gave very affecting performances. This is one of
those movies. It is realistic and reminiscent of "Little Big Horn",
starring John Ireland and Lloyd Bridges.
As a confederate officer fighting a lost war, Errol and his companions save stranded stage coach travelers from Indians on the warpath. He has a sympathetic role in which he showed heroic characteristics without going "over the top". I wish this movie were available in video and hope that the Western Channel will show it. I heartily recommend this film with a rating of 9.
This film has an unusually gritty and authentic look and feel, and an unusual ending for a 1950's western.( I can't say more or I would ruin the plot for anyone who hasn't seen the film). It has a very good beginning and a truly exciting and emotional ending. The middle though,does drag a bit.The characters of the confederate soldiers are very well established and should elicit sympathy and respect.This was Errol Flynn's last western, and , while he was no longer in his prime and looks older and a little weathered, he is perfect for the role of a man who has seen too much war. One aspect of the film that is little commented on it the exceptional horsemanship in the film. In real life, Flynn and several of the co-stars were very good horsemen, and it really shows.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to agree with mvescovi in an earlier review. One aspect of
"Rocky Mountain" which is seldom mentioned is the remarkable
horsemanship of the actors involved. For the most part these guys were
real cowboys. Among them - Dickie Jones, a trick rider almost from the
time he could walk; an amazing athlete. Slim Pickens - a rodeo
performer in his youth and a rodeo clown. (Today those clowns prefer to
be called "bull fighters" since they risk their lives daily to protect
both amateur and pro bull riders). Sheb Wooley - a rodeo rider as a
teen; one of the best in his home state of Oklahoma. He gets to show a
bit of his expertise in the opening moments of "High Noon" in his role
as Ben Miller. As another reviewer mentioned, this was the first
feature film for both Pickens and Wooley.
And let's not leave out Errol Flynn. That fellow could certainly ride with the best, as evidenced in this film and many others, and who looked better on a horse than Flynn?
My fondest memories of this film as a child were those which included the dog and Dickie Jones' character, Buck Wheat. I always was a sucker for horses and dogs.
All the characters were well-defined. You knew these men, their good points and their bad and you formed an opinion about each. You cared about what happened to them. How often can you say that about characters in one of today's movies?
The photography was striking and I found the characters' tattered clothing remarkably realistic for a change - more authentic than many films. These men were, after all, weary travelers, soldiers on the losing side of a civil war - their country (the CSA) existing on what little remained to them.
As to the romance part - to me there really wasn't one! Flynn's character is respectful and admiring of the lady and although there is certainly chemistry between them, there is no silly romance to mar the storyline or make it seem insipid. Flynn met his future wife, Patrice Wymore, on this set. They married after the film.
Finally, the story itself is not overly sentimental. The soldiers ultimately behave as soldiers, doing their duty, going to their end bravely and with honor despite any previous differences. The ending shot, with the Union cavalryman riding to the top of the butte to install the Confederate Flag, was moving and again, the honorable thing to do. A brave man is a brave man no matter which side he fights upon.
This is a fine film, a fine western and a fitting end to Flynn's career in oaters. What must we fans do to get "Rocky Mountain" out on video and DVD? It is an honor long overdue.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Says Lafe Barstow, captain in the army of the Confederate States of
America, about his command: "Six rattle-headed kids and an old
man...Kip Waterson, the baby-faced heir to a plantation...Pierre
Duchesne, from French Louisiana...Pat Dennison, an old man, really, but
a hard, reckless fighter who never gave ground while he lived...Kay
Rawlins from the Mississippi steamboats, a rough and friendly man as
the Indians now found out...Jimmy Wheat, a little red neck cropper who
could fight like a wildcat with hydrophobia, who carried a useless
little dog for 2,000 miles...Jonas Weatherby, the Texan, a seasoned
plainsman at 18...Plank, another real plainsman, hard and bitter, with
chain gang scars on his legs at 22..." They've come 2,000 miles with
orders to raise an army among the Confederate sympathizers in
California in a last-chance effort to draw the Union armies away from
Lee. It's 1865. Even if we don't remember our history too well, we know
Barstow's command is probably not going to end well. Please note that
elements of the plot are discussed.
During the next three days we're going to get to know quite well Captain Barstow (Errol Flynn) and his men. They're holed up in the Nevada Mountains vainly waiting for promised assistance from a California renegade. They've rescued a stage driver and a woman passenger, the fiancée of a Union officer, from an Indian attack. They've tricked and captured a Union patrol. And they know Shoshone warriors are gathering in force to wipe everyone out.
This was the last western Flynn made. Warner Brothers put as few resources into the making of this movie as they could get away with. There are a handful of actors, with only Flynn being a name, and perhaps 50 extras on horseback. It was shot at one location outside Gallup and on what looks like just one studio set. It's in black and white. The screenplay is workmanlike, but in the best sense of the word; there are requisite memories of Jimmy Wheat, just 16, designed to hook us with sympathy; there's a little Barstow backstory about his cotton plantation, his fiancé who is now dead, his weary acceptance of duty for a cause he believes in; and there is no hint of emerging attraction between Barstow and Johanna Carter (Patrice Wymore). She loves her Union officer even if she becomes more sympathetic to what Barstow and his seven men face. The dialogue is efficient. Unless you're a great writer (and even if you are), that's solid praise. About a third of the movie is shot at dusk, night or early morning when a lot of set deficiencies can be covered up. In fact, Rocky Mountain is probably the smallest scale movie Flynn ever made.
It's poetic justice that Rocky Mountain turns out to be a very good film, especially because of its small scale. The movie didn't have the budget to screw things up by trying to turn the story into something bigger than it was, or Flynn into a wooing hero. Flynn plays Barstow as a man with burdens. There's none of the Flynn charm and easy smiles. With the exception of Miss Carter, Flynn's interactions are all with other men, those under his command and those who might shoot them.
As Barstow's options dwindle he faces reality with none of the Hollywood posturing that takes place in bigger budget movies. To accept the situation and take action is something he and his men simply shrug their shoulders about and then get on with it. "I never thought it would end this way," Johanna Carter says to him." "There never was any other way," Captain Barstow tells her. "We just put it off awhile." Rocky Mountain, in its small-scale way, is a good movie.
Errol Flynn brings a world-weary look and an understated performance to
this William Keighley directed Western. The film features several
gifted horsemen Dickie Jones, Buzz Henry, Slim Pickens, Sheb Wooley and
the legendary Yakima Canutt. It was the first film for both Pickens and
Wooley who both became journeymen character actors.
It is also interesting to see Errol Flynn and Patrice Wymore (Mrs. Errol Flynn) work together in their only pairing on screen. The presence of Flynn's carousing companion Guinn "Big Boy" Williams also puts Flynn at ease in this role.
Rocky Mountain blends a Civil War chapter, rampaging Indians and a love triangle all in a solitary location shoot. One of the last black & white Westerns, it holds up well more than 50 years after it was filmed.
"For it being 1950, I was stunned to find so many real and honest
performances. There was none of that obnoxious "Studio Acting" where
everyone is chewing scenery and pretending to be their character."
This was the comment of a previous reviewer. Anyone who is "stunned" to find good acting in a 1950 movie has probably not seen many movies from that period. As for "chewing scenery", I wonder if this person has ever paid attention when "method" icons like Dean, Brando, Cobb, Palance, and Penn are on screen. It's often a miracle there's any scenery left uneaten to finish the movie with!
"Rocky Mountain" is one of Flynn's better films (of many good ones), and as always, this underrated actor is real and natural. The movie is also of interest as the debut of noted character actor Slim Pickens. The story is gritty and dark, and the scenery and photography are spectacular. The ending is quite moving. This is a movie worth seeing.
This was Errol Flynn's last Western and not one of his best ,alas ,although
it does have its moments. He plays a Confederate officer ,sent to California
with a small troop to make contact with Southern sympathisers with the aim
of stirring up rebellion in the state and diverting Union resources from
other battle fronts.Two problems arise --the promised support is not
forthcoming and he is sidetracked when riding to the rescue of a stagecoach
coming under Indian attack.It proves to contain the fiancee of the local
Union cavalry commander and when a troop is sent out to find her Flynn is
forced to take them captive as well.When Native American scouts of the Union
army turn out to be traitors and launch an attack his hands become even more
Effectively shot in black and white there are some good action scenes and
the acting is fine ,but it suffers by comparison to other "Indian attack "
movies like "Apache Drums "
Not bad but a notch or two short of classic status
Excellent black and white photography showcases the area around Gallup, New Mexico. Every scene is methodically planned out to take advantage of the surroundings. Add this to a strong cast and it makes it one of my favorites to watch over and over. The story line kind of comes in second on this one.
This movie has a few surprises that make it far better than one might
expect from a "forgotten film".
What I was surprised most about was the directing, which comes across as almost an homage (or "rip-off", if you're cynical) to the great John Ford. What Mr. Ford did for Monument Valley, William Keighley tries to do for Gallup, New Mexico. And, for my money, he does an extremely respectable job of it. The scenery is really beautiful, and all the more dramatic due to the fact this is shot in black and white. There are some great angled shots, clever compositions, and the director does well with the action sequences.
The screenplay dispenses with all the heavy-handed messages and over-the-top, unfunny comedy sequences one might find in a Ford film, and aims its sites on a human drama of confederate soldiers on a mission who are forced to go to Plan B, C, and D in order to not only complete their mission, but to get two Yankee civilians to safety in spite of entanglements with Union soldiers and Indians on the war path. I agree with another IMDb reviewer who commented on the middle of the film dragging, and the suspense that should have been building never quite gets a full head of steam, but there are some really nice moments that make it worth sitting through the few dull spots. And I must admit to being utterly shocked by the ending...I really never saw it coming...which made the final moments in this film extremely poignant.
For it being 1950, I was stunned to find so many real and honest performances. There was none of that obnoxious "Studio Acting" where everyone is chewing scenery and pretending to be their character...everyone in this movie WAS the character they were playing. Errol Flynn is one of my all-time favorites and his restrained performance here was wonderful. This was my first time seeing Patrice Wymore on screen and I really enjoyed her performance...it could have easily become an annoying, whiny, shrill character, but Ms. Wymore made some very nice acting choices and created a believable character. The supporting cast is all solid, but three must be mentioned as stand-outs: 1) The great Chubby Johnson as the stage driver has a small but wonderful role. You might not know his name, but you'll know his face and voice immediately...one of the all-time great Western character actors. 2) A very young Slim Pickens has a wonderful role and proves himself the master horseback rider he was in real life. Great riding, great acting, and pure fun to watch. 3) The real surprise here for me was young Dickie Jones. What an absolute pleasure he was. And, in my opinion, he steals the movie away from all of the far more experienced and well-seasoned actors. He is genuine and earnest throughout, with a great monologue in the middle of the film that sucked me right in and made me believe. He was absolutely wonderful in the part and it's a shame he quit the business to go into real estate...I really think he might have had an Oscar in his future had he continued making movies.
This is not a perfect film by any means, but with strong performances, beautiful scenery, and interesting direction, this "John Ford Lite" Western has enough going for it to make up for any of its shortcomings. It's a real tough movie to find, but if you run across it, I sincerely believe it is worth a viewing.
Hope you enjoy!
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