In 1864 Cavalry Captain John Hayes reluctantly follows orders to become the civilian boss of the Overland Stage Line, which keeps the flow of Western gold to the Union and will help it win the Civil War. Headquarters for the stage line is a small Colorado town with Southern sympathizers who will do anything they can to sabotage his mission. Resistance to his efforts is led by former friend ad colleague Clay Putnam, who has taken advantage of Hayes' absence and married his former sweetheart. Written by
Karen Steele was romantically involved with director Boetticher over a long period of time. Besides "Westbound" she made several other films with the cult director. See more »
While Christy is reminiscing about the Overland Stage with Hayes, he reminds him that they worked together on the line for twenty years. Before that, he says, he worked for the Pony Express. As the year is 1864, that would push his Pony Express experience to 1844 or earlier if you subtract Hayes' Civil War service. The actual Pony Express only was in operation for one year, from 1860 to 1861. See more »
That's a lot of woman!
Ever here any of us disagreeing... about that?
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The absence of a Burt Kennedy script is very evident.
Out of Warner Brothers and filmed in Warnercolor, Westbound is directed by Budd Boetticher & written by Berne Giler & Albert Shelby LeVino. It stars Randolph Scott, Virginia Mayo, Karen Steele, Michael Dante, Andrew Duggan & Michael Pate. The story is set in 1864 during the American Civil War where Scott plays John Hayes, the man charged with the task of running the Overland Stage Line between California and Julesburg, Colorado. The function of which is to transport gold and the mail to aid the Union war effort. In Julesburg, Hayes finds a host of problems with Confederate sympathisers led by Clay Putnam (Duggan), who also happens to be married to Norma (Mayo), an old flame of Hayes.
Of the seven Western film's that Boetticher and Scott made, Westbound is widely regarded as the weakest. Not part of the Ranown cycle they did that featured Harry Joe Brown on production and Burt Kennedy screen writing, it is a decent, if disposable, Western movie. The story is actually rather enticing, but with such a small running time and a condensed location shoot, the movie is never quite able to lay down some solid footings for the characters to flourish from. This leaves the supporting actors either exposed to their failings as thesps (Duggan is particularly bad), or playing underdeveloped participants (sadly the case with Mayo).
However, this being Boetticher & Scott it does have some nice passages to take in, unsurprisingly the best of which is when Scott is on screen. Be it cocking a rifle with one hand, throwing one of his best ever punches, squaring off against Pate's effective turn as henchman Mace; or laying on some reflective emotion around the two ladies of the piece, Scott is always captivating. What action there is is attention grabbing for the budget and David Buttolph provides a perky score that's at its best during the stagecoach sequences. With the exteriors primarily filmed at the Warner Ranch, J. Peverell Marley is able to photograph enough of the grassy hilled scenery to make an easy on the eye impact.
Enjoyable and safe fare for Western fans, but very much a low key affair from the normally dynamite partnership of director & star. 6/10
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