The Man from Colorado

I had never seen or even heard of this film until today 24 May 2015 when it was shown in the UK on Film 4. What a great western this is. In colour  too but actually released in 1948 so technically not really a Fifties film but I am cheating a bit because it was so good.

The Man from Colorado

If you haven’t seen it then please do. Glenn Ford and William Holden star together in this one for Columbia Pictures.   The Man from Colorado, the first Western after the War, was really the first where they were clearly mature, seasoned players doing a serious job. In this slightly unusual psychodrama, Ford is the Union Colonel who becomes a federal judge and Holden the Captain who becomes his US Marshal. We soon perceive, however, that the relationship should have been the other way round as Holden shows the decency and authority required for command while Ford gives a fine performance of a man descending into megalomania. To complicate the issue, the two are rivals for the hand of the fair Caroline (Ellen Drew), who marries Glenn but should have taken Bill.

The Man from Colorado 2

Released in 1948 this dark movie is  directed by Henry Levin (better known for sword and cloak dramas) and well photographed by William Snyder. The film starts on the very last day of the Civil War as Ford gives the order to wipe out a straggling Confederate war party in Colorado despite its Captain running up the white flag. William Holden is shocked but says nothing for the moment out of loyalty. Ford’s villainy worsens in civilian life as he confides his madness to his journal but will not admit it to anyone else. Glenn Ford’s friend Edgar Buchanan (who appeared in three of Ford’s first four Westerns) as the crusty, kindly old Doc makes excuses but the paranoia and blood-lust of Ford grows as he becomes a hanging judge and leads posses to run down criminals or those he only suspects might be criminals.

The Man from Colorado 3

Glenn Ford’s madness – Illustrated in the above picture –  is always measured against the rock-like common sense of William Holden. Glenn Ford is extremely good as the commander descending into insanity and Holden, handsome and noble, is splendid as the former friend who stands up to him. Ellen Drew is moving and strong as the wife even if such parts didn’t allow for much in those days. James Millican plays Jericho Howard, the ex-soldier. The film ends with  with a climactic fire and showdown. Glenn Ford – wild eyed and completely mad – and William Holden are at the top of their game in this one

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