WESTBOUND is one of the seven late '50s Westerns starring Randolph Scott and directed by Budd Boetticher. It seems that this film is generally considered one of the lesser Boetticher-Scott collaborations, but I liked that it was a little more lighthearted than some of their films. WESTBOUND may not be a Western classic, but it's a fast-moving, enjoyable piece of entertainment made by people who knew how to make good movies.
During the Civil War, Union Captain John Hayes (Scott) is asked to leave his regiment and resume his career running a stage line in the West, ensuring that gold from California will be delivered safely to the Union North.
Hayes befriends a one-armed Union veteran, Rod Miller (Michael Dante), and asks Miller and his wife Jeannie (frequent Boetticher leading lady Karen Steele) to run a Colorado stage station. Upon arrival in Colorado, Hayes also discovers his onetime lady love Norma (Virginia Mayo) is now married to Clay Putnam (Andrew Duggan), a Southern sympathizer determined to see that the stage line fails.
It's all pretty traditional stuff, but in my book that's what's so great about it. When the camera pans to a row of mean-looking cowboys on a porch and Michael Pate's sitting there, clad all in black, it just makes someone who loves Westerns smile. And of course, you can't beat Scott as the man who patiently absorbs hits from the bad guys but finally is provoked to take them on in a couple of shootouts.
Steele acquits herself well as Dante's gutsy wife, who slugs a cowboy in a memorable moment. Mayo is somewhat underused, with only one scene in the first 40 minutes or so of the movie, but she has a good scene or two near the end of the film.
The movie boasts jaunty theme music by David Buttolph which adds a great deal to the movie. The nice WarnerColor cinematography was by J. Peverell Marley. Marley, incidentally, was once married to Linda Darnell; he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame near the Hollywood & Highland Center.
IMDb and other sources list the film's running time as 72 minutes, but the print I watched was 69 minutes long.
WESTBOUND is available on DVD-R from the Warner Archive. It's been shown recently on Encore Westerns, and it can also be seen on Netflix Instant Play.
Previously reviewed Scott-Boetticher Westerns: SEVEN MEN FROM NOW (1956) and THE TALL T (1957).
Update: More thoughts on this film are at 50 Westerns From the 50s.