EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|SILVER RIVER (director: Raoul Walsh; screenwriters: based on a novel by Stephen Longstreet/Stephen Longstreet/Harriet Frank Jr.; cinematographer: Sidney Hickox; editor: Alan Crosland, Jr.; music: Max Steiner; cast: Errol Flynn (Capt. Mike McComb), Ann Sheridan (Georgia Moore), Thomas Mitchell (John Plato Beck), Bruce Bennett (Stanley Moore), Tom D'Andrea (Pistol Porter), Barton MacLane (Banjo Sweeney), Monte Blue (Buck Chevigee), Jonathan Hale (Maj. Spencer), Alan Bridge (Sam Slade), Joseph Crehan (President Grant), Arthur Space (Major Ross); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Owen Crump; Warner Bros.; 1948)|
a few good stirring moments before it stumbles into an uninteresting
cautious morality tale."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This rousing in parts, but
overall average b/w western, was the last film Errol Flynn and Raoul
Jim"/"They Died With Their Boots On"/"Uncertain Glory") made together
(they made seven in total, but Walsh had enough of Flynn's drinking on
the set and not being able to act in the afternoons because he was so
drunk). Though it's a lesser film than those better known ones they
previously made-- it nevertheless follows the same trajectory and
offers a few good stirring moments before it stumbles into an
uninteresting cautious morality tale. It's based on a novel by Stephen
Longstreet, who cowrites it
with Harriet Frank Jr.
the Civil War, the brash Mike McComb (Errol Flynn) is a Union Army
captain, who during the battle of Gettysburg disobeys orders to remain
with the payroll wagon and burns the one million dollar payroll so that
the charging Rebs don't get it. As a result, Mike gets court martialed
and is unfairly cashiered out of the Army. Mike thereby vows to follow
from now on only his own rules. With his loyal friend "Pistol"
Porter (Tom D'Andrea), he heads West. Mike uses his street smarts
to confiscate the money and equipment of a dishonest gambling house
next to an Army camp, and becomes a riverboat gambler heading for Silver City, Nevada,
to open a saloon and gambling hall. To get his equipment there he must
stave off his thuggish gambling house rival "Banjo"
Sweeney (Barton MacLane) and outsmart the
beautiful feisty wife of the Silver River mining company, Georgia Moore
(Ann Sheridan), to get the wagon master (Alan Bridge) to haul his stuff.
Mike's Silver City gambling saloon is successful, and he hires the
down-and-out alcoholic John
Plato Beck (Thomas Mitchell) to be his lawyer. When Georgia's refined
mining engineer husband Stanley (Bruce Bennett) doesn't have the cash to haul his mining
equipment, Mike sells him his wagons for a share in the mines. Mike
schemes to take Georgia away from her husband, and soon connives his
way into being partners with Stanley in the mine and then partners with
all the other miners, even opening up a bank.
In the effort to expand their silver
production, as requested by President Ulysses S.
Grant (Joseph Crehan, the Grant lookalike played
him in nine films) so the country can become a creditor
nation, Stanley volunteers to
go to the Black Rock range of
mountains to check things out on a surveying trip, but is killed
by the Shoshone
Indians who are on the warpath. Beck relates this to the King David
story in the Bible, of the king who once sent the army captain husband
of the woman he
loved to his death in battle. Mike now wins over Georgia and builds a
marble castle for his bride. But the miners turn against Mike when told
by an irate Beck about the "King David and Bathsheba" story, and the
miners cause a run on the bank by withdrawing their money from the
scoundrel's bank. This causes Mike to declare himself bankrupt, as his
empire falls because of his hubris. How the immoral silver magnate gets
back on his feet again by suddenly rebelling against the prevailing
political corruption and gets even with chief rival Sweeney for killing
senatorial candidate Beck, is the unconvincing stuff one sees in all
second-rate Westerns (though it was shot as an A western, with high
The dark film was not received well by the public, probably because Flynn plays such an unsympathetic character who never gets the comeuppance he deserves.
REVIEWED ON 6/15/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ