'Randolph Scott Round-Up - Volume Two'
(Randolph Scott, Janis Carter, Claire Trevor, Donna Reed, Joan Leslie, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2016 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Overview: Randolph Scott was a Hollywood Cowboy Legend, the always "tall-in-the-saddle" hero who helped define the genre. Rustle up a spot and enjoy 6 of his classics in this special Volume Two Western roundup.
DVD Verdict: The Desperadoes (1943) - Randolph Scott, Glenn Ford, Claire Trevor, and Evelyn Keyes. 'The Desperadoes' is a genuine classic, not for its story (which is fairly routine), but for its technical production elements. This was a landmark western, the biggest ever at the time of its release and all the more unique because it was a Columbia production-a lightweight studio with a bottom feeding reputation. Only Fox's "Jesse James" (also starring Randolph Scott) from a few years earlier gave anywhere near this lavish a treatment to the genre.
Although it would be eclipsed in a few years by "The Searchers" and "High Noon", 'The Desperadoes' was a ground breaking effort and a historical treasure and tells the tale of Steve Upton (Randolph Scott), the sheriff of a Utah community in 1860. Upton's best friend, Cheyenne Rogers (Glenn Ford), was once an outlaw, but under Steve's guidance, he's gone straight and tries to earn an honest living. Until things take a change for the worse in the town, of course.
The Nevadan (1950) - Randolph Scott, Dorothy Malone, and Forrest Tucker. 'The Nevadan' finds Randolph Scott in a three cornered battle for some stolen gold that escaped outlaw Forrest Tucker has hidden away. After Tucker has made good an escape from authorities, Scott turns up on his trail and proves quite useful. Still Tucker can't figure out why he's turning up all the time and being so helpful.
The other part of this mystery is George MacReady who was doing several Randolph Scott westerns at this time. He's a seemingly respectable rancher, but he's got some thugs on the payroll who include Jock Mahoney and bickering brothers Frank Faylen and Jeff Corey ready to do his bidding and he's cutting himself in on Tucker's hidden treasure.
Complicating all this is Dorothy Malone, MacReady's daughter, a lovely thing who is totally clueless about her old man. She takes a fancy to Scott and he to her which causes problems for everyone involved.
Santa Fe (1951) - Randolph Scott, Janis Carter, and Jerome Courtland. The Brothers Canfield, Randolph Scott, Peter Thompson, Jerome Courtland, and John Archer; are all Confederate veterans who get into a brawl with some Union soldiers who were drunk and started it. One of the Union men is killed. The Canfields flee via the Santa Fe railroad going west. Randolph Scott stays to work for the railroad, the other brothers decide to become outlaws for real.
For Randolph Scott, Santa Fe is an interesting blend of two of his previous pre-World War II films The Texans and Western Union. In both he's involved in a great enterprise, a cattle drive in The Texans and building the telegraph in Western Union. In The Texans he's a returning Confederate veteran and in Western Union his conflict is with his brother.
'Santa Fe' is a good action packed western, plenty of gun-play by a cast of veterans of many a western. Scott is his usual tight-lipped self. The part is a bit offbeat for him. Randolph Scott is usually a driven man with a mission and sometimes can be ruthless. His Britt Canfield here is a man of honor and a straight arrow, the kind of part Joel McCrea would normally be cast in. But Scott does well with the role.
Man in the Saddle (1951) - Randolph Scott, Joan Leslie, Ellen Drew, and Alexander Knox. Though 'Man in the Saddle' has some effective moments and a few good action scenes, it is below average for Randy Scott who usually did better. The high point of the action comes near the beginning of the movie when the cattle are stampeded with Randy trying to outrun the herd in a covered wagon that is ablaze.
The shoot out at the end is much too abbreviated only lasting a few minutes. Randy doesn't even get to duke it out with the hired gunslinger Fay Dutcher (Richard Rober). What kind of name is Fay for a gunfighter? Owen Merritt (Scott) shoots Dutcher as he rolls for his gun in the street. The talented actor John Russell has a fairly nondescript role. He would have been much better cast as gunman Dutcher.
The story of a love triangle with two women Joan Leslie and Ellen Drew after one man (Scott)is at times overplayed. Exactly what Owen's relationship was with Laurie Bidwell (Leslie) before she married Will Isham (Alexander Knox) for money and power is never revealed. Apparently the two had one hell of a relationship the way it still tugs at their heartstrings and is the continued buzz of the town. The hired gun is not just after more ranch land for his boss but after Owen as well.
Hangman's Knot (1952) - Randolph Scott, Donna Reed, Claude Jarman Jr., and Lee Marvin. Randolph Scott leads a group of Confederate raiders who rob a gold shipment and kill the Union Cavalry escort. Before one of them dies though, he informs the group that the Civil War's been over for a few weeks. They're outlaws now.
That fact is brought home when a group of "deputies" lead by Ray Teal and Guinn Williams go out hunting the Confederates. They're not law officers in fact, but raiders looking to steal the gold and kill Scott and his crew. Scott and his crew take shelter in a stagecoach station and the fun begins.
Everybody's in conflict here. Randolph Scott has eyes for stage passenger Donna Reed and her fiancée Richard Denning doesn't like it. Lee Marvin, who's one of Scott's men, also has eyes for Reed and willing to take a direct approach. The folks who run the station, Clem Bevans and Jeanette Nolan, don't like being caught up in the shooting at their station, but don't like the Confederates in particular as their Union sympathizers and Nolan's husband and son have both been killed in the war. Even the bad guys are arguing over just what approach to take in dealing with the Confederates and none of them trust the others. All this with the two groups shooting at each other.
The Stranger Wore A Gun (1953)- Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor, Joan Weldon, and George Macready. During the American Civil War, the Quantrill's raiders use the spy Jeff Travis (Randolph Scott) to plunder the city of Lawrence, in Kansas, and Travis leaves Quantrill when he sees the massacre of the town. After the war, Travis believes that he is a wanted man and he heads to Prescott, in Arizona, to start a new life. However, the powerful Jules Mourret (George Macready), who apparently is a businessman but actually is the leader of a gang of thieves, knows his past and forges documents with a fake identity to give a job in the local Conroy Stage and Freighter Line.
Mourret is unsuccessful trying to steal the money and gold transported by the company but is frequently lured by Jason Conroy (Pierre Watkin); he intends to use Travis to get inside information about the transportation of gold. When one of Mourret's men kills the driver of the wagon, Travis schemes a plan to get rid of the gang.
'The Stranger Wore a Gun' is only an average Western and is disappointing considering the names of Randolph Scott, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine in the cast. The story is weird and the motives of the ambiguous character performed by Randolph Scott are absolutely confused, but in the end this movie entertains. These are all Full Screen Presentations (4x3 Aspect Ratio) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.