El Paso 1949

Another good Western filmed in Cinecolor – which I quite like – and starring John Payne and Gail Russell.

This was shown on British Television this weekend

EL PASO – a Cinecolor Western starring John Payne and Gail Russell

The film is set just after the Civil War, when Clay Fletcher ( John Payne), a lawyer from Charleston, arrives in El Paso on business. Clay also hopes to reunite with his long-lost love Susan ( Gail Russell), who moved to El Paso while he was away fighting for the South.

El Paso is a lawless city run by Bert Donner (Sterling Hayden) and his crony Sheriff La Farge (Dick Foran). They keep Susan’s father, an alcoholic judge (Henry Hull), well supplied with alcohol and under their control as they scheme to use taxes to take control of local farms. Clay successfully defends a former friend (Arthur Space) on a murder charge after he kills one of Donner’s men in self-defence, but eventually Clay is forced into a situation where he has to to deal with the town’s criminals with guns rather than law books.

The climactic action sequence is a gun battle during a dust storm.

ABOVE – Gail Russell with John Payne

Gail Russell with John Payne made a few films together – this was a good one.

An interesting aspect of the film is its use of Cinecolor, a relatively inexpensive process. In certain films Cinecolor looks good — it works quite well in Randolph Scott’s  The Nevadan (1950) — and also in this one El Paso ( 1949 )

I remember the process being impressive in the Jon Hall ‘Prince of Thieves’ from 1948 and some later Roy Rogers films which, by then, had a bigger budget

Super Cinecolor followed which was even better.

The film has an excellent cast, including a small but colourful appearance by Mary Beth Hughes as a clever thief, “Stagecoach Nellie.” John Payne and Gail Russell do well in their roles, and their strong performances are central to the film.

There’s also an appealing turn by Eduardo Noriega as the friendly Don Nacho Vazquez.

ABOVE – John Payne and Mary Beth Hughes

The film starts out well and has an entertaining first half, which includes Vazquez training Clay in the art of being a quick draw.

ABOVE – A big finish at the film’s end

ABOVE – A rousing ending

BELOW – The Film Premier in Oklahoma City on 25 March 1949

Back stage waiting to appear at the premiere of “El Paso” in Oklahoma City on March 26, 1949 are (L-R standing) Paramount exec Duke Clark, actor Paul Hogan (husband of Helen Forrest), Frank Faylen, Eduardo Noriega, theatre manager George Spelvin, co-producer Bill Thomas, songwriter Harry Revel. (L-R sitting) famous songtress Helen Forrest, Mr. and Mrs. Gabby Hayes, Mary Beth Hughes, John Payne.

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