Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Tonight's Movie: The Redhead From Wyoming (1953)

Maureen O'Hara stars as THE REDHEAD FROM WYOMING (1953), but although she's always worth watching, this middling Western isn't one of her better outings.

Maureen plays Kate Maxwell, a woman of ambiguous morals who finds herself caught in the middle of a range war. The battle pits Kate's business partner and possible lover Jim (William Bishop) against rancher Duncan (Alexander Scourby). While the battle rages on, Kate falls in love with the dour sheriff (Alex Nicol).

O'Hara does what she can to breathe life into the story; in fact, at times she's so animated that her Irish brogue creeps into her dialogue. Our gal Maureen can ride a wild horse and shoot it out with the best of them, but on the other hand, it doesn't help matters that her character is not someone the audience can sympathize with strongly. She may be a woman looking to make some money, but no one as smart as Kate could possibly be interested in Jim for long or be willing to keep quiet about his cattle rustling.

None of the three male leads are very interesting; Nicol comes off the best of the trio, but he's so low-key he threatens to fade into the scenery at some points. When you add to that a somewhat muddled plotline, you end up with a movie that's not particularly exciting.

Among the supporting cast, handsome young Jack Kelly (MAVERICK) is fairly wasted as Jim's closed-mouthed, black-hatted henchman; I lost count of how many times he reached for his gun in the movie! Dennis Weaver makes a positive impression in a couple brief scenes; Gregg Palmer (Palmer Lee) and Jeanne Cooper are also appealing among the large, fairly bland cast.

The Technicolor cinematography was by regular John Ford cameraman Winton Hoch, but his work here is not particularly notable. The location shooting, incidentally, appears to have been done entirely in Southern California; IMDb credits Agoura.

ThE REDHEAD FROM WYOMING is, in pretty much every regard, simply a run-of-the-mill Western in need of a sharper script and more interesting characters. It intermittently comes to life, but otherwise the film plods along for most of its 77 minutes.

The movie was directed by Lee Sholem, who also directed the much more entertaining B movie EMERGENCY HOSPITAL (1956), seen last month.


2021 Update: This film will be released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in April 2021 as part of the three-film Western Classics II collection.

April 2021 Update: My review of the Blu-ray is here.


Blogger Missy said...

I've had this on my Netflix Instant Watch queue for sometime, but have suspected it wasn't there it sits. LOL. I'll probably get to it at some point, but no great hurry especial since your review confirms my suspicions.


10:57 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Yeah, it's worth seeing once if you're a fan of Maureen O'Hara and/or Universal Westerns, but I thought it was definitely lower tier.

Best wishes,

2:02 PM  
Blogger Terri said...

I just love Maureen O'Hara. I'll have to look out for this one. In the mean time I guess I'll just have to watch The Quiet Man again! LOL

3:15 AM  
Blogger Moira Finnie said...

Like you, Laura, I was eager to like this movie since it gave one of my favorite actresses a central role, but I should have remembered the lady's own words. In her memoir, Maureen O'Hara called this one a "western stinkeroo," which proved that despite her glorious presence, without a better script and someone to strike sparks with on-screen, the leading lady was as lonely as a tumbleweed on the Wyoming plains.

If only the casting had been a bit better, tapping someone like Joel McCrea as her co-star here, eh?

8:39 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Moira! I like your idea of casting Joel McCrea in this movie. He definitely would have breathed some missing life into the sheriff and the romance with Maureen!

Fortunately we have many really good O'Hara movies to compensate for this one being a disappointment...

So glad to hear from you!

Best wishes,

10:44 AM  

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