Thursday, Oct 2020
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Screenwriters: Ernest Pascal from an Ernest Haycox novel
Length: 92 mins.
Released: 1946

canyon passage 1946The movie opens with the words, "Portland, Oregon, 1956". In Canyon Passage, we have a Pacific, pre-Civil War, mining Western, filmed in late 40s Technicolor. Jacques Tourneur was mostly famous up to this point and somewhat afterwards in his sketchy career making horror pictures. The acting is rather wooden throughout, but the characters are good and the story moves along well with ample plot twists and turns and adequate action. There is love, love lost, friendship, friendship betrayed, revenge, fist fights and murder. And in the Pacific Northwest in the 1850s, there is the constant threat of Indian attack.

The men in this place and time, it seems, are either gamblers or respectable businessmen, trying to open roads, build banks and such. The gamblers are either digging for gold or working the poker tables. On the respectable settlers side, their is one happy, heartwarming scene showing the whole county pitching in to build a new couple's cabin. I will not reveal what the local Indian tribe does with the newly split wood of this spiffy abode, but suffice it to say that the viewer should beware of the tensions of the times.

It is an interesting change to see Ward Bond act in a Western outside the John Ford company, and here to play the disgruntled heavy to boot. He does well and is a nemesis worthy of concern. Another special treat in the cast of this picture -- aside from another bubbling turn from the crooked-pitched Andy Devine -- is the role of Hogy Carmichael, who sings his songs with mandolin accompaniment throughout, like a one-man Western Greek chorus, commenting on the story. This device was also done to great effect in the amusing Western Cat Ballou, with Nat King Cole and Stubby Kaye as the strolling singers.

For its compelling and exciting story and its solid Western production values, we rate Canyon Passage a strong GOOD VIEW.

--Jed

Cast:

  • Dana Andrews....Logan Stuart
  • Brian Donlevy.... George Camrose
  • Susan Hayward.... Lucy Overmire
  • Patricia Roc.... Caroline Marsh
  • Ward Bond.... Honey Bragg
  • Hoagy Carmichael.... Hi Linnet
  • Fay Holden.... Mrs. Overmire
  • Stanley Ridges....Jonas Overmire
  • Lloyd Bridges.... Johnny Steele
  • Andy Devine.... Ben Dance
  • Victor Cutler.... Vane Blazier
  • Rose Hobart.... Marta Lestrade
  • Halliwell Hobbes.... Clenchfield
  • James Cardwell....Gray Bartlett
  • Onslow Stevens.... Jack Lestrade
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