Devil's Doorway

Devil's Doorway

Director: Anthony Mann

Cast: Anthony Mann, Robert Taylor, Louis Calhern, Paula Raymond

     
 
Devil's Doorway was the first of many top-rank westerns directed by Anthony Mann. RobertTaylor is cast against type as a Native American named Lance Poole. Returning to his people's land after the Civil War, Poole discovers that the Indians are being victimized and persecuted--and, thanks to machinations of crooked lawyer Verne Coolan (Louis Calhern), it's all

Overview

Devil's Doorway was the first of many top-rank westerns directed by Anthony Mann. RobertTaylor is cast against type as a Native American named Lance Poole. Returning to his people's land after the Civil War, Poole discovers that the Indians are being victimized and persecuted--and, thanks to machinations of crooked lawyer Verne Coolan (Louis Calhern), it's all legal. Unable to turn to the Law to protect his tribesmen, Lance becomes what white men call a "renegade." Devil's Doorway was the vanguard of a new western cycle of the early 1950s, wherein the Indians were the good guys and the whites the villains. Had it been made 30 years later, it is likely that the star would have been a genuine Native American, rather than a white matinee idol in "redface."

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
One of the grimmest depictions of relations between whites and Native Americans in the post-Civil War west, Devil's Doorway seems to have its feet planted in the sensibilities of several different decades -- and, most astonishingly, decades yet to come. On its surface, Devil's Doorway is an eerie stylistic exercise in western noir, similar in some respects to Raoul Walsh's Pursued (1947). But Anthony Mann's movie is imbued with a topical message that sets it distinctly apart from Pursued, in terms of its impact and, possibly, its intent as well. Looking at it 60 years on, one has to wonder if Mann and screenwriter Guy Troper (whose output did include some topical scripts) were thinking about racism and intolerance on a more general and immediate level, using the tale of Native American war hero Lance Poole (Robert Taylor) to make some points concerning the lot of African-American veterans; the postwar Civil Rights movement was just starting to coalesce at the time, and a lot of the action here could just as easily have translated into modern terms in various southern and border states. But even taken on its own terms, and ignoring any suggestion of a topical purpose, Devil's Doorway is startling in its grim, uncompromising nature -- it is one of the more hope-bereft movies to come out of Hollywood, offering few hints of solutions to the problems it poses. Indeed, watching it today, the film seems to anticipate Ralph Nelson's Soldier Blue, made two decades later (on a much bigger budget), which took the real-life Sand Creek Massacre and turned it, at least in part, into an allegory about Vietnam, with just as high a body count among the honorable and decent characters. And one can't help but wonder if, indeed, someone wasn't trying to put a much more profound message across than the studio recognized -- only that could explain the bizarre story and dramatic arc, in which key characters are slaughtered quite cavalierly far before the actual (and devastating) end of the picture. In all, this is a movie that demands almost as much attention and analysis six decades on as it deserved in 1950.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/20/2010
UPC:
0883316256961
Original Release:
1950
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:24:00
Sales rank:
27,731

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Taylor Lance Poole
Louis Calhern Verne Coolan
Paula Raymond Orrie Masters
Marshall Thompson Rod MacDougall
Edgar Buchanan Zake Carmody
James Mitchell Red Rock
Rhys Williams Scottie MacDougall
Spring Byington Mrs. Masters
James Millican Ike Stapleton
Bruce Cowling Lt. Grimes
Fritz Leiber Mr. Poole
Harry Antrim Dr. C.O. MacQuillan
Chief John Big Tree Thundercloud

Technical Credits
Anthony Mann Director
John Alton Cinematographer
Daniele Amfitheatrof Score Composer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Nicholas Nayfack Producer
Conrad A. Nervig Editor
Walter Plunkett Costumes/Costume Designer
Guy Troper Screenwriter
Leonid Vasian Art Director

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