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Towards the end of the American Civil War, a rebel captain flees to Colorado to join a band of Southern mercenaries. He drags an innocent gold prospecting couple into trouble when the husband is accused of a murder he committed. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Red Mountain comes at a point in Alan Ladd's career when he was starting to get known as a western star as well as a noir star. This was the third western he had done after Whispering Smith and Branded. The same year of 1951 he also made Shane, but Paramount held up its release for two years. And he and agent/wife Sue Carol made the decision to leave Paramount around this time. It turned out to be his worst career move.
But doing Red Mountain was far from that. Ladd plays a Confederate officer who in the dying days of the Civil War goes west to join Quantrill's Raiders. He's one Southerner not looking to be reconstructed. But along the way he kills a government assayer and Arthur Kennedy gets blamed for the crime who is also a Confederate veteran. Ladd rescues him from a lynch mob and Kennedy and wife Lizabeth Scott go along with him to join Quantrill. Along the way Kennedy breaks his leg.
Arriving at Quantrill's camp at Red Mountain, the three of them discover that John Ireland as Quantrill has an agenda all his own that has nothing to do with the Confederate States of America. He's setting himself up with an alliance of Indian tribes as a new western emperor. Similar in many ways to Jeff Chandler's character in The Jayhawkers. His ally is Ute chief Jay Silverheels and Quantrill think the Indians fight best in their own established way which doesn't sit well with Ladd.
Quantrill is an interesting figure and none of the Hollywood movies have ever gotten him quite right. Such people as Walter Pidgeon, Brian Donlevy and now John Ireland have played him as one bloodthirsty individual. In Red Mountain he's the deepest dyed kind of villain and quite pretentious as well.
The film was shot on location in Gallup, New Mexico and the battle scenes are well done and the pace from director William Dieterle is a good one. Red Mountain is a good western made at a time when the western was maturing in Hollywood.
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