Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Carson City (1952) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

I'm moving right along in my quest to catch up with previously unseen Randolph Scott Westerns. CARSON CITY (1952) was my fifth Scott Western in the last three weeks! It's available from the Warner Archive as part of the Randolph Scott Classics Collection.

Of the five Scott Westerns I've seen since late January, my favorite was GUNFIGHTERS (1947), released by Columbia. I'd rank the Warner Bros. film CARSON CITY as a solidly entertaining Scott film which falls around the mid-range of the five films.

In CARSON CITY Scott plays Jeff Kincaid, an engineer hired to put in a railroad to run between Carson City and Virginia City. This doesn't sit well with Jack Davis (Raymond Massey) and Jim Squires (James Millican), who head up the "Champagne Bandits"; if the railroad goes through the bandits will lose the ability to easily rob the stagecoach line!

Some in Carson City fear that the railroad will bring problems to town; among them is Jeff's half-brother Allen (Richard Webb), who works alongside Susan (Lucille Norman) at the local newspaper. Allen is also jealous of Susan's clear admiration for Jeff, cementing conflict between the brothers.

The movie has a handful of standout moments, chief among them being when Millican draws on Scott in the saloon. Millican promptly has his gun shot out of his hand, and as Scott angrily twirls his gun back into his holster, he tells Millican not to draw if he can't back it up.

There are a few other nice moments like that but for the most part it's a very straightforward film, told at a brisk pace but without a great deal of originality. Sometimes, though, a standard Western like this really hits the spot.

Massey was also the villain in Scott's SUGARFOOT (1951). He's particularly effective as a man who is all smiles and courteousness on the outside, while inwardly seething.

I enjoyed Lucille Norman as one of the leads in the musical PAINTING THE CLOUDS WITH SUNSHINE (1951), but here she's a pretty run-of-the mill Western heroine. She has moments where she shows a bit of spunk but all in all she's a fairly average leading lady.

The cast also includes Don Beddoe, Larry Keating, Thurston Hall, and Vince Barnett.

CARSON CITY runs 87 minutes. It was directed by Andre De Toth (RAMROD) and filmed in Warnercolor by John Boyle. The movie was shot at Southern California movie ranches. I felt pretty certain that the mining camp in CARSON CITY was previously seen in the Warner Bros. Western BARRICADE (1950), which also costarred Raymond Massey.

In addition to the five-film Randolph Scott Classics Collection, CARSON CITY can be purchased from the Warner Archive as a single-title release.

The Warner Archive DVD is perfectly watchable, though it must be admitted this is not one of their sharper-looking releases. The film is quite grainy at times. I suspect at least part of the DVD print quality is due to the fact it was shot in Warnercolor, which tends to look harsh even at its best. There are a couple other noticeable flaws, but this film was a very early Archive release when the emphasis was on putting the movies out "as is." In more recent years, of course, many of the movies released by the Archive are remastered. This disclaimer aside, this is a title Randolph Scott fans will want to have in their collections. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jerry E said...

I would concur with your assessment, Laura. I also place "CARSON CITY" in the mid-range of Scott's westerns generally -it doesn't especially stand out. Having said that, I am always thoroughly entertained whenever I see it!

1:10 AM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

I’ve seen this one several times, I like it quite a bit. Massey is an excellent villain; his mini victory rant about no more “rotten food, crummy hotel rooms, and STUPID people” (with his henchmen seated right there!) is priceless.

I agree with you that standard Scott is darn good, but I actually thought that there were a few non-formula aspects to this one. Besides Massey and his “champagne bandits,” it went into some detail about the actual planning and building of the railroad, and the dramatic tunnel cave-in and rescue wasn’t something that happens in westerns too often (it was nice to see the veteran b-actor William Haade as Scott’s right-hand man "Hardrock" take charge of the rescue and not let the railroad executive bully him.)
I was also pleasantly surprised when Don Beddoe’s opposition to the railroad was reasonably articulated and not presented as making him crazy. Scott even acknowledged that he had a good point.

The Mickey Simpson brawl and interesting outcome thereof did remind me of the Don Megowan fight and it's after-effect in "A Lawless Street," but then I realized that "Carson City" predated it by several years.

Well, that's enough rambling for now. 'Bye, have a nice day:-)

8:05 AM  
OpenID vienna said...

Guess I liked Carson City more than you did. But I must get the Warner release.
I liked Lucille Norman opposite Randolph. And the thorny relationship between the two brothers.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Jerry, I agree. Wasn't my favorite but it was plenty entertaining and I'll be returning to it in the future when I need a Randolph Scott fix. :)

Maricatrin, I think you make very good points, I'm warming up to the movie even more as I consider the scenes you point out.

Hi Vienna! I did enjoy it quite well, just not as much as some of his other films, LOL. Hope you will enjoy the DVD when you get it!

Best wishes,
Laura

9:10 AM  

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