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Passage West (1951)

Approved | | Western | July 1951 (USA)
In 1864, six Salt Lake prison escapees join a wagon train headed for California but tensions between inmates and settlers complicate the perilous voyage.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Pete Black
... Jacob Karns
... Rose Billings
... Curly
... Myra Johnson
... Michael Karns
... Mike
... Papa Emil Ludwig
... Rainbow
Mary Field ... Miss Swingate
... Ben Johnson
... Nellie McBride
... Pop Brennan
... Mom Brennan
... Mama Ludwig (as Ilka Gruning)
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Storyline

In 1863, having escaped from a rock-quarry prison in Salt Lake, six inmates led by convicted murderer Pete Black take over a small wagon train headed by preacher Jacob Karns. Tensions and hardships grow as the travelers continue to trek toward California across dry, desolate country. Written by dinky-4 of Minneapolis

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Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

July 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

High Venture  »

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Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Michael Karns: But Jacob, the grave isn't deep enough!
Ben Johnson: It's isn't just a rule of the church...it's the law of the open trails. Graves must be six feet deep and heaped with stones to protect it from wild animals. There must be a cross. I can't leave my son like this, Jacob!
Pete Black: All right, then stay here and bury him yourself!
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User Reviews

 
The Convict and the Preacher
16 January 2013 | by See all my reviews

Blacklisted screenwriter Alvah Bessie, one of the Hollywood Ten penned the story for Passage West. Had he been blacklisted for bad writing on seeing this one rather than political opinions he might not have obtained martyrdom. This is a rather unreal story of six escaped convicts who inflict themselves on a wagon train bound for California headed by preacher Dennis O'Keefe. The leader of the convicts is John Payne whose career path was like Dick Powell's completely sheds his boyish crooning image for being a complete tough guy.

Unfortunately unlike Dick Powell this was not a Murder My Sweet success for him. Payne did many interesting roles in B films during the Fifties, but this was not one of them.

Dennis O'Keefe who was something of a raffish fellow also just does not ring true as a frontier preacher. He and Payne have a rivalry of sorts over Arleen Whelan who is scheduled to marry preacher O'Keefe after the journey is over starts reassessing things with the sight of a shirtless Payne sporting a very hairy chest. In complete contrast to his earlier days when 20th Century Fox had him apparently shave it.

Some of the convicts include Frank Faylen, Richard Rober, and in his farewell performance Dooley Wilson, the famous Sam of Casablanca as an escaped slave who was in prison apparently for just that. Also Mary Beth Hughes has an interesting role as a saloon entertainer along with the preacher's wagon train. She provides a note of wisdom occasionally.

Pine-Thomas who produced some interesting B films for Paramount came up very short with this one.


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