Friday, April 25, 2008

Tonight's Movie: When the Daltons Rode (1940)

WHEN THE DALTONS rode is an action-packed but ultimately depressing Western.

Although the stars are ostensibly Randolph Scott and Kay Francis, they have relatively little to do in the film, portraying friends of the Dalton brothers who spend most of their time looking worried. The film depicts how injustice turned the Dalton brothers into a gang of desperadoes, and then focuses on their increasingly violent crimes, building to a deadly climax. It doesn't make for especially fun viewing, unless you enjoy watching lots of train and stagecoach holdups.

The brothers are played by Brian Donlevy, Broderick Crawford, Stuart Erwin, and Frank Albertson. Crawford is a particular standout as the sheriff gone bad. Their mother is played by Mary Gordon, who appeared in at least 286 films; WHEN THE DALTONS RODE was one of a whopping 18 movies she appeared in which were released in the year 1940.

The supporting cast includes Andy Devine, who is intended as comic relief but is an annoyance as a townsman improbably chased by amorous women. George Bancroft and Edgar Buchanan also appear.

Randolph Scott made many wonderful Westerns, but this is one of his minor efforts. Indeed, as he plays a lawyer, he sees virtually no action in this movie.

A biography of Kay Francis quotes her as having told a magazine at the time of the film's release that she agreed to appear in the movie "just for the fun of it," because she wanted to make a Western.

WHEN THE DALTONS RODE was directed by George Marshall. It was filmed in black and white and runs 81 minutes.


Update: This film is also part of a 10-film Westerns set which is a great value.

2020 Update: This film will be released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in May 2020 as part of the Western Classics 1 collection.

November 2020 Update: My review of the Blu-ray is here.


Blogger Craig Clarke said...

Nice review. There are so few Kay Francis movies on DVD, this one seems to be a must-buy. I also like that she did this "just for the fun of it."

1:34 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Her character makes a fun first entrance in the movie -- if only there had been more of her in the film! Still, Francis and/or Scott fans will probably want to see it at least once, just to check it off the list of titles seen, even though they turned out to play supporting characters. :)

Best wishes,

1:39 PM  

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