Thursday, June 29, 2017

Westbound 1959

     The setting of this film is 1864 during the Civil War.  Union Army Officer Captain John Hayes doesn’t want to become the civilian boss of the Overland Stage Line but he has no choice.  This line keeps the flow of Western gold from California to the Union Army.  The headquarters is in a small Colorado town with Southern sympathizers.  They will do anything to sabotage this mission.  They don’t want to see the gold arrive to support the Union Army.  John’s former friend Clay Putnam is behind the men trying to stop the gold.
      I was surprised to see the length of this film is only 72 minutes.  It seemed like it was at least 90 minutes.  Putman and his men do a LOT to keep this Stage Line out of business.  There is a scene of a stagecoach tumbling down a mountain after the driver is killed.  I didn’t know gold was sent from California to finance the Union Army.  The California Gold Rush was from January 24, 1848 until 1855 when everything changed.  In the beginning, the miners were making the money but after 1855 the gold mining corporations made the money.  In the South, the war was financed by tariffs on imports and taxes on exports until a voluntary self-embargo in 1861 and a Union Navy blockade of the Southern ports.  Voluntary donations of coins and bouillon from private individuals were initially substantial amounts but subsided.  After 1861, a war-tax was enacted but difficult to collect.  Later efforts to raise funds were made by issuance of government debt and the printing of Confederate dollars that caused high inflation.  3* (This movie is OK)

72 min, Western directed by Budd Boetticher with Randolph Scott, Virginia Mayo, Karen Steele, Michael Dante, Andrew Duggan, Michael Pate, Wally Brown, John Daheim, Walter Barnes.

Note:  Imdb 6.7 out of 10, 73% audience on Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon 4.4* out of 5* with 30 reviews, TCM Leonard Maltin 2 ½* out of 4*, Letterboxd 3.2* out of 5* with 32 ratings.
Special Note:  Filmed in Warnercolor at Warner Ranch, Calabasas and Laramie Street, Warner Brothers Burbank Studios, Burbank, California.  Production was only 20 days for $565,000.  Karen Steele and Budd Boetticher were in a relationship and she made several other films with Budd as the director.  Originally, Virginia Mayo was expected to play the lead role of Jeanie Miller but it was given to Karen Steele.  Boetticher made seven Westerns with Randolph Scott and critics believe this is the weakest film of the seven.  

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