Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Montana (1950)

MONTANA (1950) is a genial Warner Bros. Western starring Errol Flynn as a sheep man in cattle country.

I really enjoyed this nice little 76-minute Western teaming Flynn with frequent costar and good friend Alexis Smith. It wouldn't win any awards, but it's pleasant company and nice entertainment. I enjoyed my time spent with Flynn and Smith.

Flynn plays Morgan Lane, an Australian immigrant with a herd of sheep who's in the market for a spread in Montana. Smith plays Maria Singleton, a cattle rancher who lost her father and brother in range wars and is determined to keep sheep out of the area -- despite her attraction to Flynn.

The battle of wills is pretty much all there is to this movie, but it's nicely produced and has an appealing lead performance by Flynn, who's on screen a majority of the time.

Although a couple of years later Flynn was starting to show the ravages of hard living in AGAINST ALL FLAGS (1952), in MONTANA he was about 40 and still looks great. He and Smith have nice chemistry and even sing a duet! A while back Jacqueline wrote a post about the Flynn-Smith friendship at Another Old Movie Blog.

Douglas Kennedy plays Maria's fiance, who inexplicably two-times her with the former girlfriend (Nita Talbot) of the sheriff (Lane Chandler).

A little of S.Z. Sakall's patented befuddled routine goes a very long way, but otherwise the movie moves along nicely. It was shot on good-looking Southern California locations; back projections are kept to a minimum until the climactic stampede sequence.

The supporting cast includes James Brown, Ian MacDonald, Lester Matthews, Tudor Owen, and Dorothy Adams.

As a side note, there's an unintentionally funny moment a little over an hour into the movie when Flynn is supposed to be running toward the camera and take a flying leap toward a bad guy. It's one of those strange, confusing scenes where the stuntman is full face to the camera and it's very clearly not Errol Flynn! In fact, I think it was Jock Mahoney, who is listed at IMDb as a stuntman. That's kind of amusing to me given that Mahoney turned up in a bit role in the last movie I watched, THE SWORDSMAN (1948).

MONTANA was directed by Ray Enright and an uncredited Raoul Walsh. The screenplay by Borden Chase, James R. Webb, and Charles O'Neal, from a story by Ernest Haycox. The Technicolor cinematography was by Karl Freund.

MONTANA is available on DVD in the four-film Errol Flynn Westerns Collection. Extras include a "1950 Warner Night at the Movies" lineup with a newsreel, short, cartoon and trailers; there are also three shorts from the Warner Bros. SANTE FE TRAIL series of the early '40s.

MONTANA was also released on VHS.

MONTANA will next air on Turner Classic Movies on August 12, 2014, when it will be part of Alexis Smith Day during the Summer Under the Stars festival. The trailer is on the TCM website.

February 2017 Update: MONTANA has just been reissued as a single-title DVD by the Warner Archive.


Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Thanks for the mention, Laura. I get a kick out of their duet. They look like they're having fun. Glad Alexis gets her own day in Summer Under the Stars this year.

4:42 AM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

Since Flynn played an Australian in the movie, did he use his native Australian, well, Tasmanian accent?

10:59 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

My pleasure, Jacqueline! I agree, they do look like they're having a good time. I think that's part of what appeals to me about the movie -- even when she's being a pill you feel like they're enjoying it. "Among other things."

He sounded pretty much like the same old Errol, Panavia!

Best wishes,

10:20 PM  

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