Denver and Rio Grande

Denver and Rio Grande

Director: Byron Haskin

Cast: Byron Haskin, Edmond O'Brien, Sterling Hayden, Dean Jagger

     
 

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Audiences got their money's worth and then some from Byron Haskin's The Denver and Rio Grande. Edmond O'Brien plays Jim Vesser, a former U.S. Cavalry officer and hero, now the man in charge of getting the D&RG's tracks across the Rockies first to secure a right-of-way -- he revels in the job, chosen for it by General Palmer (Dean Jagger), his former commandingSee more details below

Overview

Audiences got their money's worth and then some from Byron Haskin's The Denver and Rio Grande. Edmond O'Brien plays Jim Vesser, a former U.S. Cavalry officer and hero, now the man in charge of getting the D&RG's tracks across the Rockies first to secure a right-of-way -- he revels in the job, chosen for it by General Palmer (Dean Jagger), his former commanding officer, who is chairman of the D&RG. But he suddenly finds himself in competition with the somewhat less scrupulous Canyon City and San Juan line, whose right of way is being secured by the much less honest and more ruthless McCabe (Sterling Hayden). At their first meeting, McCabe provokes a fight in which he shoots his own chief engineer, Bob Nelson -- another ex-Cavalry officer -- and manages to pin it on the unconscious Vesser. Although he avoids jail, Vesser is so torn up with guilt over what he thinks he has done that he leaves the railroad. Months go past, and in that time the Denver and Rio Grande steadily loses its lead over the rival company, as "accidents" and unrest among the men seem to plague their every move. Vesser finally decides to step back into the fight when one of these seeming accidents nearly wrecks the train on which he's hitched a ride. Coming to the aid of the general, he takes a two-fisted approach to the problem of McCabe that puts the two on a collision course in more ways than one. He also wouldn't mind getting to know the general's secretary, Linda Prescott (Laura Elliott), a little better, but for reasons that no one around her can explain, she is standoffish and even openly hostile to him. The conflict between Vesser and McCabe turns into what amounts to guerilla warfare between the two outfits, but somehow McCabe and his chief gunman, Johnny Buff (Lyle Bettger), always seem to be a half-step or more ahead of Vesser.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
This outdoor adventure is the kind of release through which movie companies in the postwar world tried to pull audiences into theaters, giving them something they weren't getting on television -- Technicolor filming, a rousing (though surprisingly restrained) orchestral score, and a big-name cast, including Edmond O'Brien, Dean Jagger, J. Carrol Naish, and Sterling Hayden. It's a couple of years too early for anamorphic widescreen (i.e. CinemaScope), which would probably have made it look like as important a movie as it was trying to be on its relatively modest budget, but it has all of the other proper ingredients. Director Byron Haskin uses his knack for photographic tricks even during the opening credits to keep the viewer entertained from the get-go, and the rich color photography by Ray Rennahan takes care of a lot of the rest. Add on a very physical -- yet also surprisingly internalized -- performance by Edmond O'Brien as the misunderstood hero of the piece, and you've got something that favorably recalls such earlier epics of this sort as John Ford's The Iron Horse (1924) and Cecil B. DeMille's Union Pacific (1939), even if it lacks the sheer onscreen boldness of either of those two movies. The cast is good enough so that they didn't need much help from the director, and as a heroine with a misplaced sense of values, Laura Elliot (better known today as Kasey Rogers) is more than pretty enough and a good enough actress to handle the role. Additionally, there are a pair of colorful performances by ZaSu Pitts and Paul Fix in secondary but important roles that are a lot of fun to watch. Still, for all of that, this is very much a director's picture, as Haskin and editor Stanley E. Johnson keep the action moving briskly enough so that one scarcely has time to dwell on the cliches in Frank Gruber's screenplay. Coupled with some beautiful outdoor shots, spectacular action sequences involving a pair of locomotives, and solid performances at the core, this is a surprisingly rewarding movie for its 89-minute running time (complete with an opening plug for the modern Denver & Rio Grande line) -- think of it as a three-course version of DeMille's six-course Union Pacific.

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Product Details

Release Date:
05/29/2012
UPC:
0887090040204
Original Release:
1951
Rating:
NR
Source:
Olive Films
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Color]
Time:
1:30:00
Sales rank:
34,744

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Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Edmond O'Brien Jim Vesser
Sterling Hayden McCabe
Dean Jagger Gen. Palmer,Gen. William J. Palmer
Laura Elliot Linda Prescott
Lyle Bettger Johnny Buff
J. Carrol Naish Harkness
ZaSu Pitts Jane
Tom Powers Sloan
Robert H. Barrat Haskins
Paul Fix Engineer Monyhan
Don Haggerty Bob Nelson
James Burke Sheriff Masters

Technical Credits
Byron Haskin Director
Franz Bachelin Art Director
Frank Gruber Original Story,Screenwriter
Nat Holt Producer
Stanley E. Johnson Editor
Hal Pereira Art Director
Ray Rennahan Cinematographer
Paul Sawtell Score Composer

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