Dodge City Reviews
Olivia de Havilland (film 5 of 9 together with Flynn) and Alan Hale both join Errol again in fine form directed AGAIN by Curtiz...the Warner super star director of all star cast pictures. There is actually plenty of action and fighting with a reasonable amount of smooching here, the technicolour is evident and lovely yet not as good as other films and locations are rural and real, not much set work by the looks of it.
Not the best Flynn film for me but I can see why its a classic.
Wade Hatton: You know, out here the trail boss has sometimes even got to take the law into his own hands.
Abbie Irving: Oh, yes, pioneering I believe you call it, don't you?
The story of a cattle agent who takes on the role of Sheriff of Dodge City, having seen its lawlessness, and decides to clean up the town. Has everything a western needs: gunfights, brawls, romance, humour and grittiness.
Not perfect: feels overly folksy at times (which one could say about many films from that era) and some sub-plots go nowhere. No big issues though.
Great performance by Errol Flynn in the lead role. Brings all his charm, swagger, energy and action-hero star power to bear.
Good support from Olivia De Havilland, Bruce Cabot and Alan Hale.
A Texas cattle rancher passing through the notorious Dodge City feels obligated to help the people just trying to make ends meet. He settles down with a girl in the town, defends the weak, and ultimately is given the position of sheriff. Can the rancher clean up the town or will he become another sad story in its history?
"Getting married has ruined a lot of good men."
Michael Curtiz, director of White Christmas, Mildred Pierce, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawks, Yankee Doodle Dandee, Four Wives, Four Daughters, We're No Angels, Breaking Point, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and Kid Galahad, delivers Dodge City. The storyline for this picture is fairly interesting and reminded me of Tombstone. The script was excellent and the characters were well presented. The cast delivers very good performances and includes Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Ann Sheridan, Bruce Cabot, and John Litel.
"There's no law west of Chicago."
I grabbed this film because it was a western with Errol Flynn and was surprised to discover it was also directed by Michael Curtiz. I enjoyed watching this picture, but it wasn't an epic classic. The characters were larger than life, and the action scenes were good, but the premise was very straightforward. I did enjoy this movie, but wouldn't add it to my collection.
"You can get more flies with molasses than you can with vinegar."
Synopsis: Western centering on Wade Hatton, a cowboy who arrives in dangerous Dodge City and promptly helps lawmen round up some cattle rustlers. He's invited to help a wagon train arrive safely in Dodge City, and while he's away, bad guys take over the town.
The rise of talking pictures in the late twenties and early thirties had a dramatic effect of the landscape of the motion picture making business. With the advent of sound the desire for westerns seamed to wane, and with that diminished desire, artists turned their attention away from the western genre in favor of greener pastures (probably musicals), and the western was doomed to live a life of low budgets and limited artistic progress. Hell, even the genre master John Ford whom made a metric ton of silent westerns refused to go near a horse or wagon. That is until 1939, a year that saw great renewed interest in the western with big budgeted westerns such as "Jesse James", Ford masterwork "Stagecoach", "Union Pacific" and lastly "Dodge City". Four big budgeted "A" westerns in an era where such things were few and far between.
Dodge City is in essence a spiritual Wyatt Earp. The film documents the struggle of the city between a gang of ruffians that have permanently set up shop and the do-good new comer in town. Though the film is well written on the surface, just about all the characters in the picture are of the one dimensional variety and many set pieces seam to arise rather unnaturally. But these set pieces are well filmed and showcase the amount of kinetic energy and simple-minded escapism that can be had with a nicely budgeted western. If your looking for excitement, look no further than the western folks.
And that's basically the crux with Dodge City, it's not the great artistic achievement that was John Ford's Stagecoach released merely two month earlier. However, the film is no less a watershed that along with it's brethren released the same year, propelled the western into the sound era.
There are a few iffy lines where Dodge City shows its obvious superannuation, but overall its done with professional relish by all involved, including a wild, rollicking saloon super-brawl, and several scenes of absolutely ravishing Western imagery. One of the greats of its time.
Any film directed by Michael Curtiz (three years pre-Casablanca) and reuniting Olivia de Havilland and Errol Flynn (one year post-Robin Hood) and made during Hollywood's golden year of 1939 has to have some merit to it. As a western, it certainly has all the necessary elements: wild-west town, wagon train, buffalo herds and cattle stampedes, gunfights, bar brawls, church women and loose women, good guys and bad guys, and riding off into the sunset. And Curtiz certainly has an eye for it all, keeping the action going. There's nothing unique about the acting, with Flynn playing exactly to type, as always portraying a much better human being than he actually was. De Havilland is stuck in a underdeveloped role, Hale provides the comic relief, the villains are suitably slithery and unsympathetic, and the few African-American actors are abysmally stereotyped (Jesus, Hollywood in the 1930s was racist).
Overall, a predictably rousing and well-directed, albeit not particularly memorable, western.
Anyway, it was just a really satisfying movie to watch - the kind that gives you everything you want to see. Nice to see a western set crowded for once, too.