With thousands of cattle being rustled from White Sage ranch the 1930's Texas Rangers are called in. They manage to get one of their agents into the gang by making them think he is the Pecos Kid on the lam.
Arriving at Medicine Bow, eastern schoolteacher Molly Woods meets two cowboys, irresponsible Steve and the "Virginian," who gets off on the wrong foot with her. To add to his troubles, the Virginian finds that his old pal Steve is mixed up with black-hatted Trampas and his rustlers...then finds himself at the head of a posse after said rustlers; and Molly hates the violent side of frontier life.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. It received its first telecast in Philadelphia Monday 2 March 1959 on WCAU (Channel 10), followed by Asheville 29 March 1959 on WLOS (Channel 13), by Milwaukee 11 April 1959 on WITI (Channel 6), by St. Louis 25 April 1959 on KMOX (Channel 4), by Chicago and Seattle 6 May 1959 on WBBM (Channel 2) and KIRO (Channel 7) by Minneapolis 3 June 1959 on WSTCN (Channel 11), by Toledo 27 October 1959 on WTOL (Channel 11), by Detroit 9 November 1959 on WJBK (Channel 2), by Los Angeles 20 February 1960 on KNXT (Channel 2), by New York City 30 July 1960 on WCBS (Channel 2), and by San Francisco 9 May 1961 on KPIX (Channel 5). At this time, color broadcasting was in its infancy, limited to only a small number of high rated programs, primarily on NBC and NBC affiliated stations, so most vintage film showings were still in B&W. Viewers were not offered the opportunity to see these films in their original Technicolor until several years later. It was released on DVD 31 March 2011 as part of the Universal Vault Series, and again on 12 March 2013 as part of Universal's Classic Westerns: 10-Movie Collection; since that time, it's also been aired occasionally on cable TV on both Turner Classic Movies and Encore's Western Channel. See more »
Molly Woods makes her way to Medicine Bow to become the new schoolmarm, after meeting two cowboys (and great friends) called Steve and The Virginian it becomes evident that both men are quite smitten with Molly. After a series of events surrounding Molly, Steve takes up with the no good Trampas and his group of rustlers, thus bringing the honest Virginian into conflict with his friend and the quick on the draw Trampas.
This story courtesy of writer Owen Wister has been done a number of times, adapted into film form in 1921, 1923 and of course here in this version, it was also made into a television series in 1962. Having not seen any of the other versions I have no frame of reference, but I would wager my last pound sterling that this is not the best adaptation because it fails to live up to its early promise. Joel McCrea takes up lead duties as The Virginian and as decent as an actor as he was in such films like Sullivan's Travels, The Palm Beach Story and the majestic Ride The High Country, here he looks bored and struggling to feed off what little energy is in the picture. Sonny Tufts as Steve is badly cast, while Barbara Britton as Molly may well make me wish that all my lady teachers at school had looked like her (if they had of been I would have gone more often!), but she comes across as a fish out of water.
The one bright spot is Brian Donlevy as the baddie Trampas, resplendent in black (of course), he does a nice line in convincing as a bad guy of worth (something he was excellent at in his career), but even he is not given enough screen time to not only flesh the part out, but to also probably bring out the best of McCrea. The shoot out at the finale is weak and it really cements the deal that this was a badly wasted chance to make a Western of some worth. Maybe it's just one of those pieces of literature that can't fully translate to the screen? Maybe the simply plotted story just isn't up to much anyway? Either way this is a misfire and not one to revisit outside of the always watchable Donlevy. 4/10
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