For Reel

Colorado Territory (1949)
May 13, 2015, 8:04 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Raoul Walsh
4 Stars
Colorado Territory High Sierra was an example of the type of noir that would become prevalent in the 1940s. It was marked by a certain brand of fatalism, focusing on a morally challenged hero who doesn’t seem likely to survive the next ninety minutes or so. Raoul Walsh remade his own picture as a western eight years later–a more than fitting genre shift considering that the hugely memorable climax took place in the very western setting of the Sierra Mountains. Whereas the earlier version was distinguished by a sentimental streak–Humphrey Bogart’s character was trying to make money to pay for the surgery of a clubfooted girl he takes an interest in–Colorado Territory strips the material of that easy play for empathy and leaves audiences with something more raw. In a telling line, one of the robbers that Joel McCrea finds himself working with teases that he’s, “Philosophizing about my favorite subject: doom. When it’s got you marked, you’re already dead.” Like Ride the High Country over a decade later, McCrea plays the hero as a man at the end of his rope. He’s made all of the wrong decisions in his life and try as he might to move past them, they’re about to catch up with him.

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