Randolph Scott and Virginia Mayo in a superior western adventure
Westbound, Entertaining, fast-paced Western has Scott as an army officer contracted during the civil war to bring federal gold from California to the East (yes, this film might have been more appropriately named “Eastbound”). He meets resistance from an old rival and his gang of outlaws hired by the Confederacy to stop the shipments. About halfway through, the film takes a much darker path with the brigands’ murder of a stagecoach full of innocent passengers (including a little girl) and the juvenile male hero of the film (“one arm”).Surprisingly, Steele is given the juicier of the 2 female leads; Mayo is stuck in an underwritten part as Scott’s old flame and his rival’s wife.
Notable action scenes at Scott’s first arrival in town and the final shoot-out, which is done less in the balmy “High Noon” style and more in the old “shoot em up” style, crashing wagons and all. I particularly liked how director Boetticher used objects, such as the shot glass that is passed from the mercenary to the businessman, to convey relationships of power. A very exciting western picture.
Virginia Mayo at 39 is still quite fetching though she really has a small role. The younger Karen Steele, oh mama, looks like she has a body that will not quit. There are scenes with both women together and it is kind of like dueling blonde’s on the screen in this Technicolor B feature.
The plot is really far fetched. The Union needs gold shipped from the West Coast in order to continue financing weapons to fight the Confederates? The Union had all the factories so this makes little sense. It does give the actors something to fight about – Confederates stealing gold shipments, but I doubt in 1864 it could have been a factor to change the war.
The color and the cast and the best looking women in many a Western gives this one some eye candy in case you have trouble with the rather predictable plot.