Saturday, 5 August 2017

POWDER RIVER (1953) Directed by Louis King.

Here we go again! POWDER RIVER is yet another re-telling of the Wyatt Earp/Doc Holliday story in which the names have been changed. Wyatt becomes Chino Bull and Holliday becomes Doc Mitch Hardin (here a doctor rather than a dentist and with a brain tumor rather than tuberculosis. Based on Stuart Lake's biography of Wyatt Earp the film draws quite heavily on John Ford's MY DARLING CLEMENTINE with the fictional Clementine becoming Debbie here. There is a street shootout at the end but this is surpassed by a well-staged gun battle on a ferry earlier in the film. Rory Calhoun is the Earp substitute and Cameron Mitchell fulfils the Holliday role. The Clanton become The Logans and it is interesting that here the script uses the names of some real-life Western badmen, Harvey Logan (played here by a suave, suited John Dehner) and his brother Loney. The real Logan was very different than depicted here and was, a couple of decades after this film is set (1875), a member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. French actress Corinne Calvet I found rather irritating, especially as her undoubtedly genuine French accent manages to sound fake!  Debbie is played by Penny Edwards in a meatier role than she was used to in the many B-Westerns she made with the likes of Roy Rogers and Rex Allen. The rest of the cast includes Frank Ferguson, Carl Betz and Robert J. Wilke. POWDER RIVER may be a remake of both the 1939 FRONTIER MARSHAL and the 1946 John Ford film but it has enough going for it to make it worth a look. Rating : ***


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