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A group of unlikely traveling companions find themselves on the same stagecoach to Cheyenne. They include a drunken doctor, a bar girl who's been thrown out of town, a professional gambler, a traveling liquor salesman, a banker who has decided to embezzle money, a gunslinger out for revenge and a young woman going to join her army captain husband. All have secrets but when they are set upon by an Indian war party and then a family of outlaws, they find they must all work together if they are to stay alive. Written by
Excellent (color) remake of the 1939 John Wayne version.
Although the 1966 remake of Stagecoach is not quite of the caliber of the 1939 version, this well done and very entertaining western is well worth a look, if only to see the beautiful color scenery in Cinemascope.
Particularly notable among the cast is Bing Crosby, for once in a non singing role. His portrayal of the disgraced doctor with a taste for whiskey is a solid one, it proves that despite some of his later work (Say One for Me - 1959, etc), that the popular crooner could actually act.
Alex Cord, (who is remembered for Gray Eagle - in which he portrays a Native American) is here to be seen as Ringo, and pulling a gun on the marauding "Indians" chasing the stagecoach, while trying to keep the sheriff from shooting him as an escapee, and he is in top form. Cord has not the screen presence of his predecessor in the role, John Wayne, but he carries the role off with a believable grittiness that is convincing, nonetheless.
Not to demean Robert Cummings, whom I respect very much, and once worked with in films, I don't "believe" his character as the dishonest Banker, he has the right stuff, but doesn't seem able to show it off. His portrayal is nonetheless competent and does not detract from enjoyment of the film.
The scenery is outstanding and Gordon Douglas and his cinematographer, William Clothier have done a fine job of giving this film an expansive and authentic look. The music is very good evoking the mood of the film as it changes from tense to exciting and back to tense. The final scenes were a trifle bloodier than the original film, and could have been less drawn out, but overall, the film works well.
Just a word about the supporting cast. Ann Margaret is, as always, very fine; Red Buttons (See "Red" in Poseidon Adventure" for comparison) adds a certain comical manner to his role, which was a weak spot in the 1939 version. Mike Connors is convincing and gives the film a "familiar" feel (due to his many television roles, no doubt). Van Heflin is his usual solid self, giving his role all you would expect, but with a hint that given more to do, he would have pulled that off too.
All in all, a satisfying if not top notch film, any western buff should find it very enjoyable. If you like Ernest Haycox's book (on which this film is based) "Stage to Lordsburg", you will love seeing his story in color, it really helps.
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