Larkin Moffatt (Edmond O'Brien) once made a mistake and stole some money, intending to give his lady love Josephine (Laura Elliot) the finer things in life. Larkin couldn't go through with it and returned the money, but Charles Storrs (Richard Arlen) punishes Larkin by relentlessly hounding Larkin out of jobs all over the West, even though Storrs also ended up marrying Larkin's girl.
Larkin finally establishes a business as an assayer and then as the foreman working a silver claim for Dutch Surrency (Edgar Buchanan) and his lovely daughter Candace (Yvonne DeCarlo). All would be well except that Jarboe (Barry Fitzgerald), who leased the land to Dutch and Candace, wants the claim for himself, and he and his black-clad henchman (Michael Moore) don't care if Larkin has to be killed in the process. Storrs showing up in town complicates matters even more.
It's a fairly standard-issue story, but the cast is attractive and there are a couple good action sequences bookending the film. More time could have been spent explaining Larkin's character and how a nice guy could have made such a big mistake at the outset -- Josephine hardly seems worth the effort -- and more development of the relationship of Larkin and Candace would have been welcome as well. However, what did make it onscreen is enjoyable, particularly a scene where Candace has reason to think Larkin might return her interest and becomes quite flustered when he shows up at her home. DeCarlo is at her best when her roles are infused with a bit of humor, as is the case here.
This was one of several films Laura Elliot appeared in in 1951, her best-known role being the ill-fated Miriam in STRANGERS ON A TRAIN (1951). She's effective as a bored shrew who marries for financial security but quickly regrets it.
Incidentally, there seems to be some confusion about the spelling of Elliot's name. It's spelled with one "t" in the opening credits, but two "t's" on the DVD box and at IMDb. Based on the IMDb listing, it looks like both spellings were used over the years. She later ditched the entire name and continued her acting career under the name of Kasey Rogers, with one of her best-known roles being Louise Tate on BEWITCHED.
This 90-minute film was directed by Byron Haskin. Ray Rennahan shot the film in Technicolor at locations which included Sonora, California. The supporting cast includes Gladys George in a small but colorful role as a sarcastic hotel owner who makes it her business to thwart Josephine's every wish.
Frank Gruber's screenplay was based on a story by Luke Short. Although this wasn't one of the stronger films based on a Short story, he had a great track record, as described in my post on CORONER CREEK (1948).
Although the film has a bit of the look of early '50s Universal Westerns, including colorful opening title cards, SILVER CITY is a Paramount film. It's available in a fine-looking DVD from Olive. I noticed one jumpy digital glitch, which might have been my DVD rather than the print itself; otherwise, the movie looks terrific.
Glenn Erickson favorably reviewed Olive's Blu-ray edition of the film at DVD Savant.