Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Tonight's Movie: The Redhead and the Cowboy (1951)

Rhonda Fleming and Glenn Ford star as THE REDHEAD AND THE COWBOY (1951), a Western from Paramount Pictures.

Edmond O'Brien costars, and whatever interest may be found in the film is entirely due to the three leads.

The film is set in a Western territory near the end of the Civil War, where sympathizers for the two sides regularly clash; the latest flash point is for control of a gold shipment.

Ford plays Gil, a cowboy who is surprised to find himself framed for murder. His alibi is Candace Bronson (Fleming), a Confederate spy who flees the scene of the crime; naturally Gil must escape and go after her to clear his name.

Trailing both Gil and Candy is Major Jeffers (O'Brien), a Union officer working undercover as a cattleman.

The movie has a "Western noir" feel along the lines of STATION WEST (1948), though not as good as that film. As a matter of fact, Jonathan Latimer, who cowrote the screenplay, had many classic film noir titles to his credit.

This 82-minute film is basically a continuous chase film, as the characters move from one point to the next, gathering clues as they go. Unfortunately I think the movie could have done a lot more with the classic Western theme of traveling strangers banding together to deal with a common enemy. There are good moments, but as a whole it never gels into something more than roughly a two-and-a-half-star time-passer.

One of the key problems is that the romance between Fleming and Ford is erratically developed; their first kiss is a bit absurd, given that it's hard to forget there's a body lying inches away, and there's not much romantic development after that scene.

It's also complicated by the fact that Fleming's character isn't especially sympathetic for most of the film; gorgeous, yes, but more along the lines of a film noir femme fatale before she suddenly turns sunny in the final moments.

The always-charismatic O'Brien ups the film's energy level every time he appears in a scene; unfortunately he exits the film too early. All in all, it's a film which is watchable enough but also a bit disappointing.

Given the title, it's a touch ironic the film is in black and white! That said, the film's Sedona locations look terrific, photographed by Daniel Fapp. The extensive outdoor shooting is the film's best asset aside from the cast. There are a few process shots but for the most part the outdoor scenes were filmed on location and look great.

The movie was directed by Leslie Fenton.

The supporting cast includes Morris Ankrum, Ray Teal, Ralph Byrd, Alan Reed, Janine Perreau, King Donovan, Jeff York, and Iron Eyes Cody.

This film is not available on DVD but has been shown on Encore Westerns Channel.


Blogger mel said...

I have a list as long as my arm of films with colors in their titles but are themselves in black-and-white...

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lead trio combination in this sounds great! I did a double-take on that photo of Fleming with the horse as it looks like Pie, Jimmy Stewart's regular partner. Interesting to see him turn up with other stars as it sounded like he was rarely ridden by anyone else but Stewart.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Love that, Mel!

Lindsay, great to notice Pie here. I need to dig out Petrine Mitchum's book on movie horses and see if she says anything about that. :)

Best wishes,

11:27 PM  

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