Night Passage (1957)

Night Passage (1957)

“You belong to the railroad, and it belongs to you.”

A former railroad employee (James Stewart) is hired by his old boss (Jac C. Flippen) to ensure the most recent payroll for his employees isn’t stolen by gang members Whitey (Dan Duryea), the Utica Kid (Audie Murphy), and their compatriots. During his job, Stewart rescues a boy (Brandon De Wilde) from a man (Robert J. Wilke) abusing him, and De Wilde helps Stewart by hiding the money; but when Flippen’s wife (Elaine Stewart) is kidnapped and held hostage, the situation gets even more complicated.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Audie Murphy Films
  • Dan Duryea Films
  • James Stewart Films
  • Thieves and Criminals
  • Westerns

After starring in five fine westerns with director Anthony Mann — Winchester ’73 (1950), Bend of the River (1952), The Naked Spur (1953), The Far Country (1954), and The Man from Laramie (1955) — Jimmy Stewart took the lead in this Technirama western with plenty of color, but decidedly less narrative depth (Mann declined to direct). Stewart purportedly really wanted a chance to sing and play the accordion, which he does:

… though it’s not really clear how he makes a viable living this way; and you’ll be seriously irritated by the repetitive songs that pop up again and again (“You Can’t Get Far Without a Railroad” and “Follow the River”). Meanwhile, real life WWII-hero Audie Murphy doesn’t make much of an impression as a (sort of) baddie with a surprising twist to his background:

… and other supporting characters are either shallowly limned (i.e., where exactly did De Wilde’s character come from?):

… and/or annoying (i.e., Ellen Corby’s shrewish housewife and Dan Duryea’s whiny outlaw):

You can skip this one unless you’re curious.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • William Daniels’ Technirama cinematography

Must See?
No; only Jimmy Stewart fans need to check this one out.


One thought on “Night Passage (1957)

  1. First viewing. Skip it.

    It’s sort of astounding how ordinary this film is (though the over-active film score does its best to convince it’s a better flick than it is). Even Stewart fans might find it kind of… meh.

Leave a Reply