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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Not a "B" WesternAug. 8 2006
- Published on Amazon.com
"The Desperadoes" (1943) is a genuine classic, not for its story (which is fairly routine), but for its technical production elements. This was a landmark western, the biggest ever at the time of its release and all the more unique because it was a Columbia production-a lightweight studio with a bottom feeding reputation. Only Fox's "Jessie James" (also starring Randolph Scott) from a few years earlier gave anywhere near this lavish a treatment to the genre. Although it would be eclipsed in a few years by "The Searchers" and "High Noon", "The Desperadoes" was a ground breaking effort and a historical treasure.
In 1863, the economy in the town of Red Valley, Utah is based on rounding up and selling wild horses to the Union Army. The script gets a little messed up here with references to the railroad (which was several years away in Utah's future) and Custer's Last Stand (Custer was busy fighting Stuart in Pennsylvania at the time) but these are not important plot elements.
Red Valley has an honest sheriff, Steve Upton (Scott), but the banker and several citizens are corrupt; robbing their own bank each time the government pays for a herd of horses. The town is visited by Cheyenne Rogers (Glenn Ford), a famous outlaw who is an old friend Steve's. He wants to go straight, especially after falling for the pretty livery stable owner Alison McLeod (Evelyn Keyes). Cheyenne's partner "Nitro" Rankin (Guinn "Big Boy" Williams) is mainly there for comic relief as are Uncle Willie McLeod (Edgar Buchanan) and the town judge (Raymond Walburn who models his character on Frank Morgan's "Wizard of Oz" crystal ball faker).
Taking no chances with their huge budget Columbia packed this thing with tons of action and every western movie element but Indians and covered wagons. There is the best wild horse stampede ever filmed, a spectacular barroom brawl, an explosive climax, romance, and three-strip Technicolor. All this stuff doesn't necessarily fit together but who would have cared back in 1943. Unity is a problem as it tries to be both a serious action western and a comedy.
The cinematography was probably the best ever at the time of its filming. The indoor scenes are solid but it is the naturalistic outdoor photography that is truly impressive; both the lyrical static shots and the moving camera filming of the action sequences.
Scott and Claire Trevor were top billed, but the studio clearly wanted to promote Ford, who would soon be their biggest star. And Director Charles Vidor utilized the film to showcase his new wife Keyes (whose portrayal of Scarlett's sister in "Gone With the Wind" had connected with audiences more than any small part in the history of films).
The Ford-Keyes dynamic is "The Desperadoes" most unique and important feature. Rather than go for the cliché "love triangle" with Scott and/or Trevor (which it first appears will happen), the entire romantic focus is on the two younger actors. This was probably the best role Keyes ever got and she makes the most of it. Playing a tomboyish but extremely sexy young woman who looks great in both leather pants and dresses, and who rides and fights like Kiera Knightley's character in "Pirates of the Caribbean". This was revolutionary at the time and coincided with the 1942 formation of the WAAC for WWII military service.
"The Desperadoes" is one film that has been well taken care of and the print looks like it is brand new. Unfortunately there are no special features on the DVD.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
Blockbuster from Columbia....April 6 2000
Boyd D. Cathey
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: VHS Tape
THE DESPERADOES was Columiba Pictures first technicolor production, and the studio spared no expense to make this a truly signal event. Randolph Scott, a young Glenn Ford, Claire Trevor, and Edgar Buchanan head a fabulous cast. THE DESPERADOES, in a sense, was Columbia's answer to Fox studio's JESSE JAMES, another epic western. The results are very enjoyable--the dialogue crisp, the action fast, and the acting well above average. And the technicolor print is superb; THE DESPERADOES is one of the best shot pics of its time. A classic.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Third billed Glenn Ford gets the build-up treatment but Edgar Buchanan steals the showAug. 11 2008
C. O. DeRiemer
- Published on Amazon.com
This oater is standard issue with a clever setup. It's 1863 in the small ranching community of Red Valley, Utah. Robbers bust into the Clanton Bank but find no money. They kill a couple of townsmen during their getaway. Then we find out -- this is no spoiler -- it was a clever plot engineered by the respectable Stanley Clanton (Porter Hall), the banker, and the well-liked Uncle Willie McLeod (Edgar Buchanan), the feed and livery owner. Clanton had taken the money first. The bank robbery was for show. Clanton then paid off the bank robbers with a substantial cut. He offers to help the bank's customers by paying 50 cents on each dollar stolen...using their own money. The two criminal scalawags keep $80,000 and they can remain in town as leading citizens, with Clanton a civic hero. However, they didn't count on Cheyenne Rogers (Glenn Ford), a gunslinger with a history they'd hired to lead the robbers in a no-shooting robbery, showing up late. Banker Clanton decided not to wait. That's why some really bad guys were used for the job. They also didn't count on Sheriff Steve Upton (Randolph Scott), being such a lawman of integrity. And they didn't count on Countess Maletta (Claire Trevor), who runs Red Valley's gambling house and fancy hotel, knowing Cheyenne's real story. And they didn't count on Cheyenne, when he does show up, wanting to stick around so he can get to know Uncle Willie's daughter, Allison (Evelyn Keyes), better and change his ways...or that Steve and Cheyenne have known each other for quite a while...or that....
Scott, Trevor and Buchanan keep it interesting. The Technicolor is rich and not too garish. There's lot's of scenery. The production values are first-class. There are gunfights, chases through canyons, a grand, smash-`em-up-fight in the saloon, a trial, a jail breakout and a first-class stampede of wild horses down Red Valley's main street. The drawbacks are a plot stuffed with clichés and some tiresome comedy from Raymond Walburn as a judge and Guinn Williams as Ford's sidekick. The most interesting part of the movie is seeing how Columbia made sure this vehicle served to groom Glenn Ford as the young actor they were placing their bets on for money-making stardom. Randolph Scott and Claire Trevor get top billing, but they wind up playing support for Ford.
Glenn Ford at 27 looks ten years younger, a kid who uses too much hair oil. Close your eyes, however, and listen to his voice. He knows what he's doing and he sounds authoritative well beyond how young he looks. After Gilda in 1946, made right after he was discharged, he starred in any number of Columbia movies. It wasn't until 1955, in my opinion, with Blackboard Jungle and Trial, followed by Ransom! and Jubal in 1956, that Ford finally made it to super stardom. At last his looks had aged to match his voice and skill at projecting manly integrity. The surprise is that he had such a flair for laid-back comedy, as in The Sheepman (Stranger with a Gun) [ NON-USA FORMAT, PAL, Reg.0 Import - Australia ], and that when he chose to play a bad guy, as in 3:10 to Yuma (Special Edition), he was just as good.
On balance, The Desperadoes is a pleasant enough movie to rent, but perhaps not pleasant enough to buy. The DVD transfer looks just fine. There are no extras of any worth.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A GREAT TRIO: TREVOR, FORD AND SCOTT.Jan. 23 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
If anyone out there doesn't enjoy this western, then I'm fairly sure he or she really doesn't enjoy old westerns. Having grown up in the late 1940's and early 1950's, many Saturday mornings were spent at the local bijou, in my case The Sigma or Ranger theaters in Ohio, where most of the day was spent scrunched down in a seat riding the range with our western heroes.
This film doesn't really fit into that category, being released prior to WWII to a more exclusive audience, while also being the very first technicolor film Columbia Pictures released. The movie was made in the days when name actors did not make millions for each picture and each movie had several stars. As evident in this picture several such stars do appear: Glenn Ford, Claire Trevor, Randolph Scott, Edgar Buchanan, Evelyn Keyes, with the backup actors recognizable too, such a Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams.
The plot isn't too bad either, with it coming from the pen of Max Brand, a very popular selling western author of the time, who would himself soon die in combat during WWII.
This film, along with Yellow Sky shot several years later, have always been a couple of my favorites. Watch this film from 1943, year of my birth, and you too may become a fan of it also.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
"The Desperadoes (1943) ... Randolph Scott ... Columbia Pictures "April 4 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
Columbia Pictures presents "THE DESPERADOES" (1943) (86 mins/Cinecolor) (Dolby digitally remastered) --- Starring Randolph Scott, Claire Trevor, Glenn Ford, Evelyn Keyes & Edgar Buchanan --- Directed by Charles Vidor and released in May 5, 1943, our story line and film, Into Sheriff Steve Upton's peaceful Utah town rides outlaw Cheyenne Rodgers with trouble right behind him. When he finds romance with a local woman, and renews an old friendship with the sheriff, he is determined to turn his back on his old, lawless ways. But when the local bank is robbed, all fingers point to the innocent Rodgers --- An A league western thanks to Charles Vidor's direction and clever support play from Glenn Ford & Claire Trevor --- some wonderful early film character actors grace this oater with Charles King, Charles "Slim" Whitaker, Francis Ford, Glenn Strange, Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, Edgar Buchanan, Evelyn Keyes and Claire Trevor.
Under Charles Vidor (Director), Harry Joe Brown (Producer), Max Brand (Short Story Author), Robert Carson (Screenwriter), Allen M. Davey (Cinematographer), George B. Meehan (Cinematographer), Morris W. Stoloff (Musical Direction/Supervision), Gene Havlick (Editor), Lionel Banks (Art Director) - - - - the cast includes Randolph Scott (Steve Upton), Claire Trevor (Countess Maletta), Glenn Ford (Cheyenne Rogers), Evelyn Keyes (Allison MacLeod), Edgar Buchanan (Willie MacLeod), Raymond Walburn (Judge Camer-on), Guinn "Big Boy" Williams (Nitro Rankin), Porter Hall (Stanley Clanton), Joan Woodbury (Sundown), Bernard Nedell (Jack Lester), Irving Bacon (Dan Walters), Glenn Strange (Lem), Ethan Laidlaw (Cass), Edward Pawley (Blackie), Chester Clute (Rollo), Charles King (Outlaw), Charles "Slim" Whitaker (Tolliver), Francis Ford (Hank) - - - - Randy Scott had a quiet gentleman nature about him which is not seen in the films of today ... Randy took his job and his responsibility to his audience very seriously ,,, would not settle for anything less than his best ... same was true in his personal life.
SPECIAL FEATURES BIOS:
1. Randolph Scott (aka: George Randolph Scott)
Date of birth: 23 January 1898 - Orange County, Virginia
Date of death: 2 March 1987 - Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California
Special footnote, George Randolph Scott better known as Randolph Scott, was an American film actor whose career spanned the sound era from the late 1920s to the early 1960s ... his popularity grew in the 1940s and 1950s, appearing in such films as "Gung Ho"! (1943) and "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" (1938); but he was especially famous for his numerous Westerns including "Virginia City" (1940) with Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart, "Western Union" (1941) with Robert Young and "Ride the High Country" (1962) with Joel McCrea (a coin was flipped to see whether Scott or McCrea would receive top billing, and Scott won despite having a slightly smaller role) ... his long fistfight with John Wayne in "The Spoilers" (1942) was frequently cited by critics and the press as the most thrilling ever filmed; they were fighting over Marlene Dietrich ... another smash hit film together that same year called "Pittsburgh" (1942) once again with Dietrich, Scott and Wayne --- Daniel Webster defines "Legend", as being a notable person, or the stories told about that person exploits --- well by the time Randolph Scott made his best films he had long established himself as a legend in the film industry --- they say practice makes perfect, if that is true by 1958 at 60 years of age he was the master with these oaters from the 50s ... "The Cariboo Trail" (1950), "The Nevadan" (1950), "Colt .45" (1950), "Santa Fe" (1951), "Sugarfoot" (1951), "Fort Worth" (1951), "Man in the Saddle" (1951), "Carson City" (1952), "The Man Behind the Gun" (1952), "Hangman's Knot" (1952), "Thunder over the Plains" (1953), "The Stranger Wore a Gun" (1953), "Ten Wanted Men" (1954), "Riding Shotgun" (1954), "The Bounty Hunter" (1954), "Rage at Dawn" (1955), "Tall Man Riding" (1955), "A Lawless Street" (1955), "Seven Men from Now" (1956), "Seventh Cavalry" (1956), "Decision at Sundown: (1957), "Shoot-Out at Medicine Bend" (1957), "The Tall T" (1957), "Buchanan Rides Alone" (1958), "Ride Lonesome" (1959), "Westbound" (1959), "Comanche Station" (1960) --- Scott's age seemed to matter little, they only came to see another Randolph Scott film and always got their money's worth --- Scott's films were good and getting better becoming classics --- so if you ever wonder "What Ever Happened To Randolph Scott", just rent or purchase one of his films and you'll see he's never left us.
2. Claire Trevor (aka: Claire Wemlinger)
Date of Birth: 8 March 1910 - New York, New York
Date of Death: 8 April 2000 - Newport Beach, California
3. Glenn Ford (aka: Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford)
Date of Birth: 1 May 1916 - Sainte-Christine, Quebec, Canada
Date of Death: 30 August 2006 - Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California
4. Evelyn Keyes
Date of Birth: 20 November 1916 - Port Arthur, Texas
Date of death: Still Living
5. Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams
Date of Birth: 26 April 1899 - Decatur, Texas
Date of Death: 6 June 1962 - Burbank, California
6. Edgar Buchanan
Date of Birth: 20 March 1903 - Humansville, Missouri
Date of Death: 4 April 1979 - Palm Desert, California
7. Charles Vidor (Director)
Date of Birth: 27 July 1900 - Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary)
Date of Death: 4 June 1959 - Vienna, Austria.
Hats off and thanks to Les Adams (collector/guideslines for character identification), Chuck Anderson (Webmaster: The Old Corral/B-Westerns.Com), Boyd Magers (Western Clippings), Bobby J. Copeland (author of "Trail Talk"), Rhonda Lemons (Empire Publishing Inc), Bob Nareau (author of "The Real Bob Steele") and Trevor Scott (Down Under Com) as they have rekindled my interest once again for Film Noir, B-Westerns and Serials --- looking forward to more high quality releases from the vintage serial era of the '20s, '30s & '40s and B-Westerns ... order your copy now from Amazon where there are plenty of copies available on VHS, stay tuned once again for top notch action mixed with deadly adventure --- if you enjoyed this title, why not check out VCI Entertainment where they are experts in releasing B-Westerns and Serials --- all my heroes have been cowboys!
Total Time: 86 min on DVD ~ Sony Home Video ~ (4/05/2005)