Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kansas Pacific

(1953, USA, 73m)
d Ray Nazarro p Walter Wanger sc Daniel B. Ullman ph Harry Neumann ed William Austin, Walter Hannemann ad David Milton m Albert Sendry, Marlin Skiles cast Sterling Hayden, Eve Miller, Barton MacLane, Harry Shannon, Tom Fadden, Reed Hadley, Douglas Fowley

The North want the Kansas Pacific railroad built. The South for some reason do not, and an oddly dapper Quantrill does his best to disrupt proceedings with his motley band of unshaven ne’er-do-wells. Captain Sterling Hayden, young and eager before the self-loathing kicked in, is dispatched to oversee the remainder of the construction, wins over the incumbent boss and his daughter, and the North lives happily ever after. The run-up to the Civil War is a rare backdrop and casts a sober shadow over proceedings; the railroad here is not a symbol of the opening and modernisation of the West, but a parallel Mason and Dixon line between northern civilisation and southern barbarity. An apparently larger budget than the usual oater provides superior explosions and gunshots (albeit with anachronistic arms and dynamite) and the overall effect is efficient and likeable, if largely unremarkable.

© Time Out Film Guide

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