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Edward Beale is in charge of finding a shorter trail across the American desert and to also test the practicality of using camels in the west in this 3-D western. (An actual test once conducted in the Big Bend area of Texas.) Clint MacDoanld, a bank robber one jump ahead of a posse, joins the caravan by posing as a doctor. His sweetheart, Lilly, also comes along and signs on. There is a whole lot of footage of the grueling trek across the desert, but it begins to move when mule-skinner Matt Carroll becomes aware of MacDonald's true profession and he wants the gold from the bank robbery. The Apaches have shied away from attacking the train, because of their fear of the camels, but a camel dies and the jig is up as they lose their fear and here they come. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Rod Cameron leads an irascible band across western desert
"Southwest Passage" has a very good cast and lovely scenery. It's more or less an adventure-type story involving a trek, as many adventure stories do. And along this challenging trek, the characters and their conflicts are brought out. Leading up to the expedition, led by stalwart Rod Cameron and some soldiers, is a chase and escape sequence that involves lawmen chasing Joanne Dru, her lover, John Ireland, and her brother, who dies. They have robbed gold. Ireland takes the identity of an alcoholic veterinary doctor, Morris Ankrum, and joins the surveying expedition as its doctor. Dru catches up later after showing her skill and caring for her wounded brother.
In the team are Muslims with camels, John Dehner with mules, and Big Boy Guinn Williams as scout and chief assistant. Douglas Fowley besets them at one point, but Indians are their main foes. An interesting triangle starts to evolve as Dru drifts away from Ireland and toward the socially-oriented man of integrity, Cameron. Water shortage besets them as they attempt a new path through desert land filled with hostile Apaches. The 3-D origin of the film is revealed when stuff starts flying toward the camera.
In a movie like this, the passing incidents and conflicts are the story, not so much the trail movement itself. This one is watchable but really nothing special. The cast of professionals, however, brings it to life as best they can given a script that is quite mundane.
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