Next up from 1939, we have Errol Flynn’s first Western, Dodge City, also starring Olivia de Havilland.
Errol Flynn stars as Wade Hatton, a cattle driver bringing his herd and a wagon train to Dodge City. They find the town is a lawless place, mostly run by a crooked cattle baron/ saloon owner Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot). Wade’s defiance of Jeff causes some of the townspeople to ask him to be the sheriff. At first, he declines, but changes his mind after seeing a kid killed in a gunfight that erupted on the street. As sheriff, he begins to clean up the town, and, with the help of newspaperman Joe Clemens (Frank McHugh) and Abbie Irving (Olivia de Havilland), he works on building a case against Jeff Surrett and his men!
The lawless town run by the town’s toughest guy and his henchmen. The crusading newspaperman who keeps printing stories about the villain, even when he’s threatened. The new sheriff who manages to clean up the town. A big bar brawl. Yes, this movie makes use of many Western cliches. But at that time, the Western was becoming popular, and the studios were trying to use some of their A-list stars. However, Errol Flynn hadn’t done any Westerns up to this point and worried how well audiences would accept him in the genre, particularly with his Australian accent. Apparently, audiences DID accept him as a Western star, as he made seven more after this.
My own opinion is that this is a fun movie. I have, up to this point, seen three of the Westerns that were released in 1939 (this one, the previously reviewed Jesse James and Stagecoach). Of those three, this is the one I enjoy the most. Sure, I do think Errol Flynn could have been better, as I think he was a little too stiff for me in the scene where he was trying to rescue one of his men from being lynched, but otherwise, he worked quite well for me! This might not be his best movie, but I enjoyed it well enough that I would recommend it highly!
This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD individually or (Blu-ray only) as part of the five film Golden Year collection (which is what I would recommend) from Warner Home Video.
Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
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