Dodge City (1939)

Dodge City (1939)

“We’re the public disgrace of America.”

A wagon train driver (Errol Flynn) falls for the beautiful sister (Olivia de Havilland) of an immature young man (William Lundigan) who is accidentally killed in a cattle stampede. Meanwhile, he reluctantly agrees to become sheriff of a town dominated by a corrupt cattle buyer (John Cabot).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ann Sheridan Films
  • Corruption
  • Errol Flynn Films
  • Michael Curtiz Films
  • Olivia de Havilland Films
  • Settlers
  • Sheriffs
  • Ward Bond Films
  • Westerns

Errol Flynn made his western debut in this competently directed (by Michael Curtiz) yet narratively predictable oater about a reluctant sheriff taking over the lawless frontier town of Dodge City, Kansas. Flynn handles his role well, and the Technicolor cinematography is gorgeous — but as DVD Savant puts it so bluntly in his review, Dodge City “can only be described as a big-studio superwestern, an attempt to put a fancy wrapper on the same themes as had been playing out in cheap series oaters for thirty years.” A similar storyline was handled with greater panache in Jacques Tourneur’s Wichita (1955), which is recommended instead.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Sal Polito and Ray Rennahan’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s certainly worth a look by Western fans.


One thought on “Dodge City (1939)

  1. First viewing – not must-see.

    What’s said above is accurate. This isn’t a bad film but, although the acting is ok, it’s not particularly memorable either. It’s of an average length and yet it’s ordinariness makes it seem much longer. Nothing jumps out as a unique angle in the storytelling.

    Director Curtiz is finally allowed to really let loose in the penultimate (action) sequence – but, overall, the suggestion re: watching Tourneur’s (superior) ‘Wichita’ is good advice.

Leave a Reply