7.1/10
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Dodge City (1939)

Approved | | Action, Drama, Romance | 8 April 1939 (USA)
A Texas cattle agent witnesses first hand, the brutal lawlessness of Dodge City and takes the job of sheriff to clean the town up.

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writer:

Robert Buckner (original screen play)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Errol Flynn ... Wade Hatton
Olivia de Havilland ... Abbie Irving
Ann Sheridan ... Ruby Gilman
Bruce Cabot ... Jeff Surrett
Frank McHugh ... Joe Clemens
Alan Hale ... Algernon 'Rusty' Hart
John Litel ... Matt Cole
Henry Travers ... Dr. Irving
Henry O'Neill ... Col. Dodge
Victor Jory ... Yancey
William Lundigan ... Lee Irving
Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams ... Tex Baird
Bobs Watson ... Harry Cole
Gloria Holden ... Mrs. Cole
Douglas Fowley ... Munger
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Storyline

Dodge City. A wide-open cattle town run by Jeff Surrett. Even going on a children's Sunday outing is not a safe thing to do. What the place needs is a fearless honest Marshal. A guy like Wade Hatton, who helped bring the railroad in. It may not help that he fancies Abbie Irving, who won't have anything to do with him since he had to shoot her brother. But that's the West. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's Errol Flynn In His Greatest Role . . . A picture for every red-blooded son and daughter of the stars and stripes ! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The music played in the saloon by the piano player was later recycled into a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes Daffy Duck cartoon entitled Drip-Along Daffy (1951), a western spoof. See more »

Goofs

The Matt Cole's tombstone reads "Died June 6, 1875". Afterward, the sheriff's notices, published by Dodge City Star, read "July 1, 1872". See more »

Quotes

Jeff Surrett: Come on over and wet your whistle.
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Connections

Edited into Maverick: Hadley's Hunters (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Nelly Was a Lady
(1849) (uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Sung by Alan Hale while he's taking a bath
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User Reviews

"Dodge City Will Be Cleaned Up"
19 March 1999 | by stryker-5See all my reviews

Michael Curtiz directed this large-scale western. Colour is used to great effect in this early experiment with the new process. For the first half of the film, while characters and storyline are being established, the Technicolor palette is restrained, keeping mostly to browns and ochres. As Errol Flynn's character, Wade Hatton, emerges as the hero, colour begins to reinforce meaning. Wade wears a succession of impressive shirts (prussian blue, plum). Others wear plaid, but Wade's shirts are each of a single hue, emphasising his monolithic moral certainty. Wade is a bigger man than the others, and he wears a bigger hat.

Dodge is a wild cattle town. The railhead for transport back to the 'civilised' United States, it is the point to which Texan cattle are driven. The interface of rail and hoof is significant. When the cowpokes hit town after weeks on the trail they have a strong inclination to kick up their heels, and bulging pay packets with which to do it. There is no effective law in Dodge, and gunfights are commonplace. Powerful cattle dealers like Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot) cheat the merchants with impunity. Dodge City needs a strong, principled man if it is to change its lawless ways.

The film's opening image is a train hurtling westward at full throttle, a symbol of the burgeoning industrial strength of the USA, and of the Manifest Destiny which is already turning America's energies towards the Pacific and obliterating the frontier. We see the train slicing across the magnificent Kansas plains, and 'racing' the stagecoach. Machines are supplanting horses, and the train wins the race.

Olivia de Havilland is at her wide-eyed prettiest as Abbie Erving, the young woman who treks north with the cattle and eventually falls in love with the handsome sherriff. Flynn is an aussie actor playing an Irishman in Kansas, and both he and de Havilland are terrific as the romantic leads. A young Ann Sheridan plays Ruby the showgirl, Alan Hale is Rusty the abstemious cowhand and Ward Bond is Taylor the minor baddie. Victor Jory has fun playing Yancey, the mean ornery villain with the straggly beard.

Wade Hatton personifies the American Way. An immigrant who has done well for himself by dint of hard work, sharp intelligence and plenty of talent, he is fearless when it comes to protecting the weak or righting wrongs. When the call comes to pin on a badge and restore law and order to Dodge City, he doesn't hesitate. Wade stands up to an angry lynch mob, even though the 'victim' is a worthless crook.

A liberal alliance between the new sherriff and the town's newspaper proposes to bring down the evil Surrett. The newspaper's office has a portrait of Abe Lincoln on the wall. Appropriately, a killer is brought to justice because his hand is stained with indelible printer's ink - serving notice on all bad guys that the Press will always be there to expose wrongdoing.

The clowning is well done. Watch for the cowpoke who has his head driven against a post, or Flynn athletically tripping, falling and being hit in the back by a swing door. Rusty preaches temperance, but is gradually overcome by the tempting sounds of the saloon punch-up.

Wade's clean-up policy is depicted skilfully in the scene where a newspaper headline dissolves into the arrival of peaceful settlers by train, showing us neatly how Dodge is being tamed.

Verdict - A good-natured western with appealing performances by Flynn and de Havilland.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 April 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dodge City See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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