« Shutter | Main | Dance, Girl, Dance »

June 17, 2007

The Man from Colorado

man from colorado 1.jpg

Henry Levin - 1948
Columbia Pictures Region 1 DVD

For those who haven't seen it, click onto DVD Panache to check out my "Screen Test" with the man from Idaho, Adam Ross. With the second year of "Coffee Coffee and more Coffee", I've decided to celebrate with a film about Colorado. Not that The Man from Colorado was actually filmed anywhere near Colorado, as shooting was done at Ray Corrigan's ranch outside of Los Angeles. For one who has spent most of his adult life here, a passably generic Colorado is less bothersome than watching films that are set in Denver, and are filmed on sets and locations that look nothing like the place I've called home for a substantial part of my life.

The Man from Colorado really has little to do with Colorado for that matter. The "man" could have been from New Mexico. Considering the history of Colorado during the Civil War, a lot of potentially interesting stories were ignored in favor of a fictional account. That the film takes place right after the end of the Civil War can be viewed as a fiction, as the film could be be interpreted as actually being about the psychological disintegration of soldiers following World War II.

man from colorado 2.jpg

With his whitened temples, Glenn Ford may remind some of the aged John Wayne in Red River. Both films came out in the same year, and have Borden Chase as author of the original stories. In the beginning of The Man from Colorado, Ford plays a Union officer who disregards the flag of surrender flown by the Confederate Army, and shoots down all but one. In his diary, Ford recognizes that he has some kind of pathology regarding killing, but dismisses it to "the war". Returning as a war hero, Ford is offered the job as a judge who finds that one of the perks of his new position is that he can legally hang assorted criminals at will. Ford's strict understanding of the law eventually alienates best friend William Holden, wife Ellen Drew, and town big shot Ray Collins.

While The Man from Colorado is presented as a Western, it's more interested in Ford's inner darkness than wide open spaces. By the time the film moves to the shadowy hideout of Holden and his gang of disenfranchised former soldiers, the film could be more accurately described as cowboy noir. The film is ultimately less interesting than it could have been in part because Henry Levin is not a filmmaker of the caliber of someone like Anthony Mann, and Ford is more surface, without the undercurrents of anger and resentment that informed much of James Stewart's performances in such films as Bend of the River and The Far Country. Bleach blond William Holden seems to be marking time until Billy Wilder tosses him into Gloria Swanson's swimming pool in another two years.

The film ends with Ford killed by the inferno of his own making, conveniently allowing widow Ellen Drew to eventually get together with Holden, the guy she always really loved. Maybe someone like Anthony Mann couldn't have done much better had he directed The Man from Colorado, but based on his other films written by Borden Chase, it's easy to think otherwise.

man from colorado 3.jpg

Posted by peter at June 17, 2007 12:14 AM