Saturday, Oct 2020
Director: Stuart Gilmore
Screenwriters: Howard Estabrook, Frances Goodrich from the 1902 Owen Wister novel
Length: 90 minutes
Released: 1946

the virginian 1946A 1940s Technicolor Western based on the best-selling 1902 novel by Owen Wister of the same name. This screenplay, by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett follows the novel generally, but more closely resembles the screenplay from the 1929 film, starring Gary Cooper. Here, we have McRae in the Cooper title role, playing the cowboy hero in Wyoming by way of Virginia. He comports himself well as a Western lead, but fails to speak the southern drawl and portray the gentlemanly manners indispensable to the character of the Virginian. Britton is pretty and lively as Molly, a preferable performance to that of Mary Brian in the 1929 version. Here, we have the Virginian speaking the same famous "When you call me that, smile..." line featured in the book. But Trampas has an interesting speech which leads up to the confrontation. In inquiring about Molly, he says, "In my long and varied career, a person comes out West for three things: Health, Wealth or a Bad Reputation. She looks healthy and rich to me ----- " Also, here as in the 1929 film, BUT not in the book, Trampas shoots three whiskey glasses in the air to prove his worth as an adversary.

This movie has much more humor than its predecessor, particularly in the scenes in which Steve and the Virginian are competing for Molly's affections. There are many lines and scenes here which cannot be found in the book, but are exactly the same as in the 1929 film. There is one funny picture of a local newspaper headline: "School Teacher Weds CowPoke Tomorrow..." This is an entirely respectable Western which is essentially a remake of the 1929 movie. The producers accomplished an admirable job in handling this classic Western material. Perhaps Cooper was getting a little long in the tooth to replay the young cowboy hero in 1946. However, McRae is rather a weak link in this version, and a more compelling lead could have made this movie version a classic. But, for its solid story and respectable all-around Western attributes, we rate The Virginian (1946) a Good View.

Other versions of The Virginian (1929, 2001).

--Jed

Cast:

  • Joel McCrea....The Virginian
  • Brian Donlevy....Trampas
  • Sonny Tufts.... Steve Andrews
  • Barbara Britton.... Molly Wood
  • Fay Bainter.... Mrs. Taylor
  • Tom Tully.... Nebraska
  • Henry O'Neill....Mr. Taylor
  • Bill Edwards....Sam Bennett
  • William Frawley.... Honey Wiggen
  • Paul Guilfoyle.... Shorty
  • Marc Lawrence....Pete
  • Vince Barnett....Baldy
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