Monday, April 12, 2021

Tonight's Movie: The Redhead From Wyoming (1953) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Maureen O'Hara stars as THE REDHEAD FROM WYOMING (1953), part of the brand-new Western Classics II collection from Kino Lorber.

I first saw this film on VHS a decade ago, while the other two films in the set will be completely new viewing for me; they are PILLARS OF THE SKY (1956) with Jeff Chandler and GUN FOR A COWARD (1957) with Fred MacMurray.

I seem to have a theme this week of liking films better on second acquaintance; that was the case a few days ago with Carole Lombard and William Powell in MAN OF THE WORLD (1931), and I was also pleased to also discover that I enjoyed THE REDHEAD FROM WYOMING more than I remembered.

Maureen O'Hara plays Kate Maxwell, who's brought to a frontier town and set up in a saloon by Jim Averell (William Bishop). Averell aspires to both wealth and being governor of Wyoming. Both Kate and Jim were inspired by real people who came to a bad end, but otherwise there's not much similarity.

Kate soon learns that Jim is making money cattle rustling, using her as a potential fall woman, so she tries to drum up support behind Jim's back from Duncan (Alexander Scourby), a rancher. Meanwhile she's romantically attracted to Sheriff Stan Blaine (Alex Nicol), who returns her interest but doesn't act, thinking Kate and Jim are involved.

THE REDHEAD FROM WYOMING is admittedly a pretty standard range war film, but I'm glad to say that I had a good time returning to it. Perhaps it's due in part to all the Westerns I've seen in the intervening ten years, but watching the movie tonight felt like sitting down and spending 77 minutes with familiar friends.

Last time around I found the film too run of the mill, with none of the male actors particularly impressive; in fact, I chatted with someone about how much better it would have been with Joel McCrea as the sheriff. However, this time, instead of wishing for what could have been, I instead liked the film for exactly what it was.

O'Hara is fiery, Nicol is nicely laconic, and there are a host of familiar faces, most prominent among them Dennis Weaver, Jack Kelly (MAVERICK), Palmer Lee (Gregg Palmer), and Jeanne Cooper. 

I especially appreciated some nice staging of the final action sequence; Jim's comeuppance, as he approaches what appears to be many bodies lying in the street after a gun battle, is particularly delicious.

The screenplay by Polly James and Herb Meadow, based on James's story, makes O'Hara's character morally ambiguous; for instance, she keeps quiet about Jim using her brand for rustling for most of the film.  While I think that diminished my sympathy on the last go-round, this time I simply felt it made her interesting, as I tried to keep up with her plotting playing the men in her life against one another.  

Sometimes O'Hara's supremely confident temperament as Kate threatens to become too strident, but then she reels it back in. Kate is a woman looking out for herself in a tough world...but ultimately she's tired of the power games and would rather settle down with a good man.

Newcomers to the genre might be fairly unimpressed, as I was last time, but I think many Western fans will find THE REDHEAD FROM WYOMING a pleasant, action-packed outing of the solid 2-1/2 star variety. I enjoyed it and will return to it in the future.

THE REDHEAD FROM WYOMING was directed by Lee Sholem and filmed by Winton C. Hoch (SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON). The movie's exteriors were filmed in the Agoura area.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray print is sharp and clear, with a strong soundtrack.

Extras are a commentary track by Samm Deighan, the trailer, and trailers for two additional films starring Maureen O'Hara which are available from Kino Lorber.

For those interested in the previous Western Classics I collection, here are links to reviews for WHEN THE DALTONS RODE (1940), THE VIRGINIAN (1946), and WHISPERING SMITH (1948).

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Lyson said...

I didn't love my first viewing of this a few years ago - even though I like Maureen O'Hara & to a lesser extent Alec Nicol & William Bishop. I bought this set and will give this one another try. I'm hoping my second viewing experience will mirror yours.
I'm looking forward to the other 2 movies in the set more. Always enjoy Fred McMurray in anything & think he's underrated in Westerns. Well maybe Oregon Trail is a dud - even Fred can't lift that one. And I'm a big Jeff Chandler fan so Pillars of the Sky is my most anticipated movie to see here.
I want to commend KL for issuing these 3 movie blu-ray sets. I hope they sell well and we get more of the same.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'd be really interested to hear how you find it going back to it again, Lyson. I think my lowered expectations allowed me to really appreciate the things it did have going for it.

Of the two other films in the set, I had mixed feelings on QUANTEZ several years ago, admiring some aspects but not finding it wholly successful, so I'm also interested to give it a fresh look. Like you, I'm a Chandler fan and am really looking forward to PILLARS OF THE SKY for the first time.

Kino Lorber has really been knocking it out of the park over and over these last couple years, mixing interesting boxed sets with "never on DVD" single-title Blu-ray releases.

Best wishes,

8:16 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older