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Joseph M. Newman
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Vinnie Holt, a single woman traveling with her toddler niece, becomes stranded at Rawhide, a desert stagecoach stop managed by stationmaster Sam Todd and his assistant Tom Owens. Owens is quickly impressed by Vinnie's independent self-confidence. Jim Zimmerman, a fugitive murderer from Huntsville Prison disguised as a deputy, and three other ruthless escapees take over the station, intent on robbing the next day's gold shipment. After murdering Sam, Zimmerman knows they must keep Tom alive in order to complete their plans. Owens does not correct Zimmmerman's assumption that Vin is his wife, correctly sensing that the misconception might be the key to her survival also. Written by
Watched this again on the new DVD released & all I can say is WOW, I was impressed. This film has vaulted into my top 20 Westerns.
First of all from beginning to end its hitting on all cylinders. This is a Stage Station film in the tradition of "The Tall T" & "Comanche Station" of the later Bud Boetticher/Randolf Scott Ranown series, all of the action takes place in the stage station and its immediate surroundings.
The opening sequences of a stagecoach crossing the rugged barren wilderness including shots of it passing through snowbound passes are just spectacular. The Black & White cinematography is gorgeous, and add to that the historically accurate use of a team of mules pulling it makes this film one of the best portrayals of stage travel I've seen. Even the stagecoach itself is adorned with a "headlight" type lantern for night travel.
This is one of those films where you learn some bits of Western lore, its a good example of what was prevalent in that "golden age" of the Western 1950 -1971 when the audience through both films like this and the abondanza of Westerns on TV were inundated with things western where you were in the aggregate going to a sort of "Western University". Its a knowledge that is getting lost now and a good example is the illogical stupidity and implausible scenarios in the recent remake of 3:10 to Yuma.
But I've been digressing. Lets get back to Rawhide.
Care is also taken to show how the arriving team of mules is changed out for a fresh team. For those who are not familiar with western staglines most stage stops "stations" were located between 15 to 20 miles apart so that fresh teams could replace the arriving team. Each tandem of driver & shotgun made a run of about 100 miles a day, so they would go through between 5-7 stage stops in a shift. At some stage stations they had lunch or dinner for the passengers, All the aspect of working a stage station was depicted spot on. The set is perfect.
Dir Henry Hathaway does an impressive job in this film, his shots and compositions are beautiful & all the actors are convincing. This film boasts Edgar Buchanan's finest performance as Stationmaster Sam Todd, and Jack Elam is his creepiest as Treviss, Tyrone Power is Tom Owens, Susan Hayward as Vinne Holt a tough ex-saloon singer turned protector/surrogate mother of her dead sisters daughter, Hugh Marlow as the gang leader, George Tobias as Gratz, and a great performance by Dean Jagger as the slow on the uptake "one horse horse thief" Yancy. Its got a very well integrated low key un-intrusive to the story "love interest" between Power & Hataway a good example of they way it should be handled in all Westerns.
This film should be in anybodies Western Collection, 8/10 or better.
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