Kansas Pacific – 1953 Western

This film was on a number of times on TCM over last weekend – early November 2016 – and I watched it with interest. Firstly a well shot Colour Film and to be fair, quite a good story.

The leading lady was  Eve Miller – not someone I knew - but she was very good. Previously she had starred in The Big Trees with Kirk Douglas and after that and Kansas Pacific, she seemed to go somewhat down hill and appeared further down the cast list in films – and on many Television series. However she continued acting for many more years but not in the major roles she had in these two pictures.

Eve Miller.

Born – Marilyn Miller
8 August 23 She is born in Hollywood / Los Angeles, California
is raised in San Francisco, where her father is in the piano business
Early 40s works as a welder in the shipyard during the war
Early 45 works as a department store clerk and showgirl before signing with 20th Century-Fox
begins working at the famed Follies Bergere in San Francisco
45 is a showgirl in Diamond Horseshoe
is spotted by producer-director Ida Lupino who “gives her a first real break in pictures”
Early June 51 is heralded to start location filming for The Tanks Are Coming at Fort Knox, Kentucky
June 51 is replaced in Warner Brothers’ The Tanks Are Coming because studio bosses decide that a girl so extraordinarily pretty should not be wasted in a war drama
Summer 51 is on location in southern Humboldt, California, for several weeks for the filming of The Big Trees
an old fashioned movie technique returns to modern day Hollywood—studio musicians to render mood music so two actors can effectively portray a dramatic scene of parting. On the set of The Big Trees, she and Kirk Douglas cannot seem to achieve Director Felix E. Feist’s desired level of emotion. So, the two put their heads together and come up with the idea of mood music. After listening to a few Debussy melodies, they complete the desired affect on the first take.
February 52 the press claims she’s an Oakland girl
16 February 52 The Big Trees premiers in Eureka, California, at both the Eureka and State Theaters. She, Patrice Wymore, and Edgar Buchanan participate. City festivities begin; residents are invited to dress in period costumes. There is a logging truck parade.the-big-trees-1952-eve-miller
as part of the festivities, she and Patrice Wymore are “kidnapped” by a group of burly Paul Bunyans from Roseburg, Oregon. The actresses are seized by the invading woodsmen at the Eureka Inn and spirited away in a car despite the “resistance” put up by Eureka police.
columnist Harrison Carroll reports that she and Pat Wymore were kicked out of their own The Big Trees premiere at a Eureka, California, movie theater. As Pat tells it, she and Eve decided they would like to see the picture. There wasn’t a seat left in the house, so they sneaked up into the balcony in their evening clothes and perched on the steps. Presently, a fireman told them they’d have to leave. Pat admits she flew into a temper. ‘I told him I had been kicked out of better places than that, and then I stamped out of the theater.”
30 July 52 is the subject of Lydia Lane’s newspaper column: “Though Eve Miller was born in Hollywood, she told me she had to go to New York to realize her ambition to be in pictures. ‘As far back as I can remember,” Eve confided, ‘I dreamed some day of having a Hollywood contract.’”
When asked how much she feels her appearance has contributed to her success, she replies: “Appearance usually means the way you look, but I would rather say that the impression you make is the thing that counts. This consists of not only your appearance but of the way you talk, what you say and also how you smell.” Laughing, she continues, “I really think the English language needs another word — something that we could use when the nose was pleased so that the word smell could mean only when we didn’t like it. But anyway, the point I’m driving at is that perfume has played an important part in my life. A scent I was wearing started a chain of events which had a decisive impact on my career, every time I look at this particular bottle of perfume, inwardly I throw it a kiss.”
When asked about fragrance, she replies: “I have favorites, but I like to change around for the weather, time of day or the occasion. I don’t think the type of perfume you’d wear to a big party would be appropriate for a game of tennis. And then, too, certain fragrances are more attractive in hot weather than others.
“I think it’s a mistake to put perfume around your hair, ears or only on the upper parts of your body because perfume rises and so much of it is lost. I like to spray the hem of my petticoats, my stockings and my underthings. If you give a little thought to building a symphony of scents you’ll be surprised how effective this is. Not everyone may tell you how nice you smell, but they will enjoy being next to you.”
September 52 tours the Hollywood late spots with Kirk Douglas and his old pal Captain Paul Caruso
July 54 meets young actor Glase Lohman
c. December 54 becomes engaged to Universal-International bit player Glase Lohman. He’s about 29; she’s 21.
21 July 55 early in the day, she attempts suicide at her North Hollywood apartment after an argument with Lohman. When Lohman informs her that he won’t marry her until he’s financially stable, she stabs herself in the abdomen with a paring knife. Lohman tells the police that she brought up the subject of marriage and an argument ensued. Lohman says he tried to persuade her to keep calm, but when he started to leave her apartment she ran into the kitchen and exclaimed: “You will be sorry, because you will find me dead in the morning.”
the police find her on the kitchen floor, surrounded by letters she had written to Lohman. She is rushed to North Hollywood Receiving Hospital for emergency treatment and then taken to General Hospital, where she undergoes four hours of surgery for her knife wound.
17 August 73 as Eve Miller, she dies at age 50 in Van Nuys, California, by suicide

kansas-pacific-title

Kansas Pacific” is another railroad picture that turns out to be quite good. It was produced by Allied Artists on a larger than normal budget for “B” western. It was shot in colour and contains some great shots of vintage trains as well as, some exciting battle sequences. There’s one particularly convincing attack where the confederate supporters blow up an entire train.

The story takes place just prior to the American Civil War. A railroad is being built by the Union Army to supply its western posts. Confederate sympathizers are trying to prevent its completion.

Union engineer John Nelson (Sterling Hayden) is sent out from Washington to oversee the building of the railroad. Construction boss Cal Bruce (Barton MacLane) and his engineer “Smokestack” (Harry Shannon) have been experiencing troubles from unknown sources. It turns out that southern sympathizer Bill Quantrill (Reed Hadley)is behind the problems. Bruce’s daughter Barbara (Eve Miller) is the token heroine who provides the love interest for Hayden.

canadian-pacific-1953

There are many familiar faces to western fans in the supporting cast. Members of Hadley’s gang include the likes of Douglas Fowley, Lane Bradford, Myron Healey, Riley Hill and a moustachioed Clayton Moore. James Griffith plays Joe Farley, a railroad guard. Hill was never a major player as a villain in westerns but he could always be singled out in the gang because he was usually clean cut and wore a “hero style” white hat. Moore of course was better known as TV’s “The Lone Ranger” and had appeared in many Republic and Columbia serials.

kansas-pacific-scene

Sterling Hayden was a big man,  and was always more convincing in his screen fights than many of his contemporaries. MacLane although giving a good performance, was usually on the wrong side of the law in his movies and was better suited to brutish villainous roles.

Good Colour Film about the railroad.

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