Colorado Territory (1949)

“We all got to die sometime. Me, you and the whole cock-eyed world. It doesn’t make much difference what kills us.” A unique “Western noir,” Colorado Territory is actually a remake of the classic 1941 crime film High Sierra (starring Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino), both of which were directed by Raoul Walsh and based on a novel by W. R. Burnett (Little Caesar). Joel McCrea portrays aging outlaw “Wes McQueen,” who gets sprung from jail and travels West to take part in a train robbery masterminded by his old friend, the ailing “Dave Rickard” (Basil Ruysdael), who arranged his escape. Along the way, McQueen befriends naïve rancher “Fred Winslow” (Henry Hull) and his rather devious daughter “Julie Ann” (Dorothy Malone). McQueen then rides high into the cliffs to hide out in a ghost town with his two sleazy, untrustworthy accomplices, “Reno Blake” (John Archer) and “Duke Harris” (James Mitchell), as well as Reno’s girlfriend and ex-dance hall girl “Colorado Carson” (Virginia Mayo), who quickly falls for McQueen. Anyone familiar with High Sierra, a superior film, will nonetheless enjoy this offbeat Western version, which features solid acting, some good action sequences (particularly the train robbery itself), nice cinematography by Sidney Hickox and a pretty cool ending that strays slightly from the source material. High Sierra was also remade in 1955 as I Died a Thousand Times starring Jack Palance and Shelley Winters. Frank Puglia, who portrays “Brother Tomas,” was originally cast as the undertaker “Amerigo Bonasera” in The Godfather (1972) but had to back out of the role due to illness. He was replaced by Salvatore Corsitto, who got to deliver the film’s famous opening lines: “I believe in America …”

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