Sunday 21 April 2024

Movie Review: Lust For Gold (1949)

Genre: Western  
Director: S. Sylvan Simon  
Starring: Glenn Ford, Ida Lupino, Gig Young  
Running Time: 90 minutes  

Synopsis: Legends persist of a huge gold mine in the Superstition Mountains near Phoenix. Barry Storm (William Prince) arrives in the region and claims to be the grandson of "the Dutchman", who located the mine decades ago. Many men have since been murdered trying to retrace his steps. Barry interviews old timers and researches state records, and flashbacks reveal the story of his grandfather Jacob 'Dutch' Walz (Glenn Ford). He found the gold then succumbed to the charms of local woman Julia Thomas (Ida Lupino), who was desperate to escape an unhappy marriage to the useless Pete Thomas (Gig Young). Back in the present Barry continues his search for the gold, despite great risks.

What Works Well: Based on a few facts obscured by many legends, this western treasure hunt tale is enlivened by numerous flashbacks to different eras, tracing the gold mine's origins to Mexican adventurers and Apache Indians. The film's heart is the long flashback to Jacob Walz's story and his romance with Julia Thomas, director S. Sylvan Simon portraying them both as conniving products of an uncompromising frontier and deploying Noir touches through Julia's strong femme fatale tendencies. The final chapter of Walz's adventure is a brutal revelation of true colours at the treasure's gateway.

What Does Not Work As Well: Despite ending in a literal cliffhanger, the bookend story is unworthy, with underpowered casting and a profound lack of logic undermining villainous intentions.

Conclusion: Greed persists through the ages.

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