Westbound (1959)

“We need gold to fight the war. We need as much as we can get, and as fast as we can get it!”

Synopsis:
During the Civil War, Union Captain John Hayes (Randolph Scott) is asked to set up a stagecoach delivery route to transport much-needed gold from California. He receives help from wounded soldier Rod Miller (Michael Dante) and Rod’s wife, Jeanie (Karen Steele), but must fight back against a group of strident pro-Confederates.

Genres:

Review:
Westbound is generally considered to be one of the “lesser” collaborations between director Budd Boetticher and actor Randolph Scott, who made seven westerns together in just four years. While based on an interesting premise, the script is hampered by a dull, underdeveloped sideplot involving Scott’s former love interest (played by Virginia Mayo), who has married the town’s insipid bigwig (Andrew Duggan). Much more compelling are Karen Steele (Boetticher’s real-life wife) and Michael Dante as newlyweds trying to cope with Dante’s crippling war injury; this story is really theirs.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • The touching homecoming scene between Rod and Jeanie
    Homecoming
  • Michael Dante as the one-armed veteran
    Dante
  • Karen Steele as Jeanie
    Steele
  • A rare ’50s film to explicitly posit Confederates as evil and Unionists as just
    Showdown

Must See?
No, but it’s certainly recommended for Boetticher fans.

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One Response to “Westbound (1959)”

  1. A must.

    Just seems to me that all of the collaborations of Scott and Boetticher should be taken in by film fanatics – whether some are stronger than others or not.

    This one, though considered “lesser” and a mere 72 min., is still a compelling story. The only small criticism is that the screenplay is somewhat slight, giving way to filler scenes of stagecoach travel, etc., accompanied by a somewhat bombastic score; a small caveat. Boetticher and Scott make the bulk of it count. And, yes, it really is the story of the newlyweds.

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