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Canyon Passage is a brawling and sprawling American Western.
A remarkably slow build up (the first half doesn't move much at all) into much of nothing, really. Just boredom.
Somewhere in Oregon, Dana Andrews is running a mule-train express service and white people are starting to settle down in the area. Relations with the local Native Americans are tense (and yes, the film has the usual racist subplot of a vicious attack on the settlement). Andrews is juggling his business responsibilities while also becoming romantically entangled with one if not two local women (including Susan Haywood who is betrothed to the local banker, a friend but a serious problem gambler - Brian Donlevy). He's also endlessly fighting with doltish heavy Ward Bond who causes trouble for everyone. But Andrews is restless and all these subplots resolve themselves with his departure from the town with Hoagy Carmichael in tow (he who had been singing throughout the film). Above average western from Jacques Tourneur.
Lavishly mounted Western by Jacques Tourneur, better known for his noir films
A great western that can stand along any John Ford western from the same period. It is crisply directed by the underrated Jacques Tourneur and features beautiful color cinematography. Dana Andrews give a great performance as Logan Stuart a entrepreneur in 1856-Oregon. The film costars Brian Donlevy and Susan Hayward and features one of the best barroom brawls in cinema between Andrews and Ward Bond.
one of those terrific westerns where nothing is black and white. dana andrews stands by his friend brian donlevy, who may be a thief and maybe a murderer, and is engaged to the woman they both love. a fight with a local outlaw and an indian attack later, and everything shakes out differently. hoagy carmichael sings and all's right with the world. well worth it for western fans
Lavish and colourful western, making good use of the scenery for the Technicolor advances, although many of the characters are bland.
A very complex and stylized film. The script is great and provides the characters with great philosophical depth. The direction, too, is marvelous.
Less than the sum of its parts.
What struck me first about this was the sheer beauty of the color photography. You have to remember this was 1946, a time when the vast majority of motion pictures were in black and white. Yet, thanks in part to restoration and DVD quality, there were times when it seemed this could've been shot last week for Pete's sake. In terms of the plot, once again this film is ahead of its time. It makes no bones about how absolutely brutal frontier life could be, and that the White Man may have had it coming to him by knowingly encroaching upon land that had belonged to the Natives for a long, long time. This film is also mature in how it depicts relationships. The synopsis calls it a romantic triangle, but it's more like a square: Logan, George, Lucy, and Caroline. The bind they collectively get themselves into during the Jacksonville scenes is far more complex (and therefore more realistic) than a lot of what you see at the multiplex nowadays. You also have to give props to how it depicts frontier justice. In the movie The Texas Rangers, which this film is packaged with, there's a scene where they're holding court in a bar. The same thing happens in Canyon Passage, only Logan won't stand for it. He knows George is guilty, but he insists on the rule of law as opposed to a kangaroo court presided over by drunks. Tough stuff. All in all this is a very satisfying film offering you a glimpse of what American frontier life was like beyond what the textbooks say. And mind you, this very American film was directed by none other than a Frenchman, Jacques Tourneur.