MOVIE REVIEWS

Colorado Territory

7/10 NR 01 hr 34 min

June 11, 1949

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Territorial Doom.

Colorado Territory is directed by Raoul Walsh and adapted to screenplay by Edmund H. North and John Twist from the novel "High Sierra" written by W.R. Burnett. It stars Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo, Dorothy Malone and Henry Hull. Music is by David Buttolph and cinematography by Sidney Hickox.

Raoul Walsh remakes his own High Sierra from 1941 but supplants it into a Western setting - with tremendous results.

McCrea plays outlaw Wes McQueen who springs from prison and vows to go straight, but with a price on his head he is coerced into one last railroad robbery. If he can escape the law, he can make a go of it as a new man, with a new name, and comforted by a new found love of a good woman, Colorado Carson (Mayo). Can he escape the law and those who would sell him for money?

A remake of a classic film noir, Colorado Territory is itself classic film noir. Whilst not reaching the dizzying star heights of Bogart's 41 version, this is a film of great strengths. Thematically it's noir gold dust, the great Walsh not pandering to anyone and ensuring the dark edges of Burnett's novel play out on screen, including the shattering finale.

The photography is grade "A", both in chiaroscuro textures and sumptuous location framings. Cast can't be faulted either, McCrea a genuine horseman is firmly at home in a Western setting, Mayo and Malone positively light and sex up the screen, while classy performer Hull lends weighty support.

High end Western staples are adhered to, with robbery actions, fights, stunts, villainous betrayals and back stabbers, these marry up to the noirish cement of a man unable to escape his fate, his past weighing heavy on his shoulders, there's a doom laden feel permeating the story.

Rarely mentioned when talk turns to film noir Westerns, but it should be because it's one of the best. 9/10

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