It’s hard to say who may have come up with the idea of turning HIGH SIERRA, the 1941 film noir classic with Humphrey Bogart as a hardboiled bank robber agreeing to pull one last job, into a Western, but it was an inspired one. That Western was COLORADO TERRITORY (1949), Johnny D. Boggs’s choice for our latest Western Night gathering.
Both films were directed by Raoul Walsh, no stranger to Westerns (DARK COMMAND, THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON) and gangster films (THE ROARING TWENTIES, WHITE HEAT).
In COLORADO TERRITORY, notorious outlaw Wes McQueen (Joel McCrea) escapes from jail and agrees to do one more train robbery for that last big score. The film is fast, the train robbery clever, the double-crosses dirty, and the characters tough, including the women. One is Julie Ann Winslow (Dorothy Malone), a shy good girl (or is she?) who’s come west with her father to start a new life. The other is Colorado Carson (Virginia Mayo), a half Indian, half white former dance hall girl who can’t seem to make the right choices. There are horses and six-shooters, the wide-open desert and big skies. Call it noir without the shadows.
The script by John Twist and Edmund H. North, based on the screenplay for HIGH SIERRA by John Huston and W.R. Burnett, features fast, tough, Western noir-ish dialogue. For example: “I was born under a chuckwagon. Never got much higher. Anything was a step up.” And “This deck has had so much bottom-dealing that it’s dog-eared. Too many jokers keep turning up.”
Shot in sharp black-and-white by Sid Hickox, locations include Gallup, New Mexico, Sedona, Arizona, and Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Colorado.
With a running time of 94 minutes, COLORADO TERRITORY is available on DVD.
Along with Johnny, record nine-time Spur Award-winning author and Owen Wister Award winner (take a look at his latest LONGHORNS EAST), our group includes Kirk Ellis, Emmy-winning screenwriter and producer of HBO’s JOHN ADAMS and TNT’s INTO THE WEST, Kirk’s wife, Sheila, David Morrell, award-winning author and New York Times best-selling author of FIRST BLOOD, the novel that introduced the character Rambo, and Robert Nott, award-winning journalist and author of several books on Western films, including THE FILMS OF BUDD BOETTICHER.
COLORADO TERRITORY TRAILER