Friday 22 December 2023

Movie Review: Trail Street (1947)

Genre: Western
Director: Ray Enright
Starring: Randolph Scott, Robert Ryan, Anne Jeffreys, George "Gabby" Hayes, Madge Meredith
Running Time: 84 minutes

Synopsis: The town of Liberty, Kansas is in the middle of a conflict between cattlemen and farmers. Allen Harper (Robert Ryan) is a landowner helping farmers deal with the harsh conditions, while the evil Logan Maury (Steve Brodie) wants to build a cattle empire and is happy to chase the farmers back east. Both men pursue a romance with Susan (Madge Meredith), but saloon girl Ruby (Anne Jeffreys) is in love with Logan and resents his interest in Susan. With the violence increasing, legendary Marshal Bat Masterson (Randolph Scott) arrives in Liberty to impose the rule of law.

What Works Well: This sturdy B-western delivers a conflict-filled plot inspired by the struggle to raise crops in dry and barren land. A romantic quadrangle, bursts of action, and a couple of good saloon songs (courtesy of Anne Jeffreys) maintain engagement. A deep cast of colourful characters includes Gabby Hayes in fine form as the talkative side-kick, and slimy saloon owner Carmody (Billy House) provides annoyingly effective support to the bad side of the street. Director Ray Enright animates Liberty with an army of extras, leading to a raucous climax.

What Does Not Work As Well: The film never threatens to rise above its humble ambitions, not helped by a rather disinterested Randolph Scott as Bat Masterson (an actual legend of the west). After wandering into town about halfway through, he stretches credibility by imposing his will through mere presence. 

Conclusion: A worthwhile if competently routine trip out west.

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