Carson City, Banker William Sharon becomes desperate that his gold and silver shipments from Carson City to Virginia City are the helpless targets of a band of outlaws called “The Champagne Bandits.” In true Robin Hood-fashion, after robbing the stage of its bullion, they treat its passengers to a fried chicken picnic replete with champagne. Sharon becomes convinced that the only way to foil the gang is to build a railroad to carry the ore, but that will take an extraordinary engineer in such mountainous territory. Sharon finds his man in brawling adventurer Jeff Kincaid, an experienced hand at difficult jobs and former resident of Carson City who knows the difficult terrain very well. It becomes a reunion of sorts as Kincaid’s half brother works for the local newspaper, but they soon become rivals for the affections of Susan Mitchell, the publisher’s daughter. Kincaid also has to fight the town’s hostility to his boisterous railhands and ongoing efforts by the outlaws to sabotage the project.
Scott, Massey and superb Railroad Robbery make for great fun!
Carson City, Randolph Scott is 1 of 4 or 5 icons of the Western genre (along with Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, possibly Henry Fonda and…?…), and he is always worth the time it takes to watch one of his films. They’re not always great, but they are the quintessence of the genre, and his granite-jawed charisma always works.
This is one of the better films in the Railway Construction sub-genre. The plot device of the “champagne bandits” is a little comical, but not enough to undermine the film. Raymond Massey, an under-appreciated and versatile actor, delivers a nicely nuanced performance and devises a very good railroad heist. Both his performance and his scheme are well worth your time. It is definitely one of the cleverest railroad robbery schemes ever conceived in a Western, and it is filmed in a way that clearly depicts the various elements of the plan.
Of course, Randy wins the day and he also ends up with the girl. However, it is definitely more of a case of her getting him, than Randy getting the girl.