STATION WEST was released by the Archive the same week as ROUGHSHOD (1949), which I reviewed a few days ago. Both titles are Westerns which should be much better known, and hopefully they'll find new audiences thanks to now being available on DVD.
STATION WEST is basically a "Western noir," a late '40s subgenre which also included titles such as PURSUED (1947) and BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948). Star Dick Powell transfers his tough guy persona to the West, where he tangles with classic noir types including Jane Greer (OUT OF THE PAST) and Raymond Burr.
Powell plays Lt. John Haven, who arrives in a Western town on an undercover mission; he's charged with solving the murder of two soldiers in a gold heist. Haven poses as a rowdy sort, picking a fight with a soldier (Steve Brodie), in order to ingratiate himself with the town lowlifes. Powell's sarcastic dialogue would have been right at home with one of his film noir characters.
Greer plays a somewhat mysterious saloon owner who flirts with Haven, and she also has the chance to sing "Sometime Remind Me to Tell You." There's actually quite a bit of singing in the movie, as Burl Ives is marvelously cast as a hotel clerk whose singing provides some commentary to the action and gives the film wonderful mood. It's ironic that Greer and Ives get the chance to sing while former musical star Powell doesn't!
There is so much I love about this movie; besides the great dialogue and the music, there's the striking black and white photography in Sedona by Harry J. Wild; the excellent action sequences, including an absolutely brutal fistfight between Powell and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams; and the superb cast, which also includes Agnes Moorehead, Tom Powers, Gordon Oliver, Olin Howlin, John Doucette, and Charles Middleton. Powell's close friend, Regis Toomey, gets a couple of scenes as a detective.
The Frank Fenton-Winston Miller screenplay was based on a novel by Luke Short, whose work also provided the basis for BLOOD ON THE MOON, RAMROD (1947), and several other good Westerns.
STATION WEST was directed by Sidney Lanfield.
Although IMDb says the film runs 87 minutes, the Warner Archive DVD is 80 minutes long; this time matches the print I've previously seen on Turner Classic Movies, and it's also a match for Leonard Maltin's reference guide. Update: Please see the comments for an extended discussion on the film's running time.
I previously reviewed STATION WEST in 2011. The last time I saw this film, in 2014, was in a 35mm print which had sadly seen better days, so it was a great pleasure to watch this film on the Warner Archive's good-looking new DVD.
It should be noted that some of the exterior nighttime scenes are quite dark, but that has also been the case with the previous prints of this film I've seen. In contrast, some of the daytime exteriors are almost too bright, and the picture quality throughout is a bit inconsistent, which again matches what I've seen in the past. Interior closeups of Greer are lovely, and overall the film is clean and highly watchable -- especially when I compare it to the 35mm print I saw where dialogue kept dropping out! There are no extras on the disc.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.