Witchita – with Joel Mcrea

Another very good Western in Technicolor and Cinemascope

Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Starring Joel McCrea, Vera Miles, Lloyd Bridges, Wallace Ford, Edgar Buchanan, Peter Graves, Jack Elam

We knew we were in for a treat when we got the first shot of Joel McCrea on the distant horizon, riding slowly toward a group of cowboys on a cattle drive.

Joel McCrea plays Wyatt Earp, who arrives in Wichita planning to use his savings to start up a business. Trouble seems to go looking for Wyatt, however, and he feels honour bound to put a stop to it, especially when characters like Lloyd Bridges, Jack Elam, and Robert J. Wilke shoot up the town. 

Wyatt becomes marshal of Wichita, aided by young reporter Bat Masterson (Keith Larsen), who becomes his deputy. Wyatt also courts pretty Laurie McCoy (Vera Miles), whose father (Walter Coy) initially supports Wyatt becoming marshal, but who later fears Wyatt’s assertive tactics will harm the town businesses.

Wyatt copes with this sort of conflict on one hand and keeping law and order on the other.

It all ends in a climactic shootout on the streets of Wichita.

WICHITA is a fairly typical Western story — shot in familiar territory, in Santa Clarita and on Southern California ranches, with a cast of Western regulars.

Director Tourneur manages pull together all these elements.

The film has a well-paced and has Joel McCrea’s terrific performance as the dedicated Western lawman.

The film has a tight running time of 81 minutes and maintains the viewer’s attention throughout

The film is very attractively shot by CinemaScope and Technicolor by Harold Lipstein. It makes use of the widescreen, including that opening sequence which sets the scene for the film

The film score is by Hans J. Salter, with Tex Ritter singing over the opening and closing credits – he was used to this as we think of /High Noon’

For the BluRay release a while ago Wichita had a 4K scan of the original camera negative.

But no matter how you’re looking at it, Wichita is terrific. Tourneur was one of Joel McCrea’s preferred directors and they always seemed to strike gold when they worked together.

This one, with McCrea as Wyatt Earp cleaning up Wichita, Kansas, is one of their best.

posted by Movieman in Uncategorized and have Comment (1)

One Response to “Witchita – with Joel Mcrea”

  1. David Rayner says:

    I loved this film as a little boy. I went to see it as a 10 year old in July, 1957, and was so impressed by the title song that I was singing it for months afterwards. Another Joel McCrea CinemaScope and Technicolor Western with an equally catchy title song that I went to see at around the same time was THE FIRST TEXAN, in which he played another historical character, Sam Houston.

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