El Paso

1949

Western

4
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 60%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 60%
IMDb Rating 5.8/10 10 458 458

Top cast

Gail Russell as Susan Jeffers
Arthur Space as John Elkins
John Payne as Clay Fletcher
Sterling Hayden as Bert Donner
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
945.82 MB
986*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 42 min
Seeds 5
1.71 GB
1480*1080
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 42 min
Seeds 16

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by weezeralfalfa 7 / 10

Vigilante justice replaces corrupt judicial injustice, post-Civil War.

This is a message post-Civil War western. Unfortunately, it espouses 2 conflicting messages: (1)When the local judicial system is inadequately present, or present in a corrupt or prejudicial form, it is a natural right of the injured and threatened to defend themselves or extract equal revenge against the perpetrator(s).(2) No matter how inadequate, corrupt or prejudicial the local judicial system is, it is the duty of individuals harmed by it or by others to submit to the existing judicial system. Those who attempt to take the law into their own hands are subject to prosecution no matter how seemingly valid their reason. After exercising the first of these messages, the film ends upholding the second message. I suspect the production code people weren't about to pass a film which glorified rebellion and vigilantism as sometimes necessary to achieve real justice........John Payne, in his first western, is the main protagonist. He's a lawyer, newly arrived from Charleston, S.C., who objects to the methodology of the first trial he sees here. After several killings of his friends and the judge for thumbing their noses at the corrupt Sheriff Lafarge(Dick Fortran), he becomes the leader of a sizable group of rebels who go about searching for, killing and perhaps burning the houses of the friends of the Sheriff(whom I will refer to as loyalists). The climax of the film consists of an all out gun battle in the middle of El Paso between the rebels and loyalists. This is complicated by the occurrence of a very violent dust storm that made visibility and walking difficult. After a number of each are killed, the two groups ride out of town, meeting at a river, where the loyalists, outnumbered, surrender. Several are about to be strung up when Clay arrives with the demand that the ropes be taken off their necks. He's a born again legalist, advocating that the sheriff and other loyalists be tried for real or suspected crimes. Thus, from the viewer's viewpoint, the film ends on a rather unsatisfactory note, as the sheriff is neither dead nor visibly in jail, while the victors march down the street in parade formation. ........Gail Russell, the female lead, plays Susan Jeffers, daughter of the usually inebriated judge. She's Clay's girlfriend, a relationship threatened by his sojourn into vigilantism. She is a major voice warning him that this is not the solution...... One of the victims of the loyalists is Clay's grandfather: a judge from Charleston. Just why he came to El Paso is not discussed. Perhaps this was detailed in some discarded footage? Edwardo Noriega played Nacho Vazquez, who saved Clay from a tormenting saloon crowd, and taught him how to be an effective gunslinger..... Much bewhiskered Gabby Hayes generates some amusement playing a simpleton trader, who's always getting cheated by Mexican Joe......Stagecoach Nellie(Mary Beth Hughes) is another clownish character. She devised an inventive way to practice pickpocketing. While riding in a stage, she emphasizes that Indians or bandits often attack the stage, then offers to hide the men's wallet in her things. If the man forgets to retrieve his wallet at the end of the run, she takes it to her room and divests it of currency. If the man complains, she pleads that there was no money in it. Of course, this only works under ideal conditions of a novice, no tattletale in the stage, and forgetful victims.

Reviewed by planktonrules 7 / 10

Desite the very familiar nature of the film, it's well worth seeing.

"El Paso" is an ugly looking film. I assume it looked a lot better when it first debuted, but the print from Netflix is yucky looking. Part of this might be because it used Cinecolor (a very inexpensive but far from perfect color system) and part of it surely is due to the effects of degradation over time. All I know for sure is that the film is full of sepia tones and green-grays but many other colors are absent.

The film begins just after the Civil War. A lawyer (John Payne) is sent from Charleston to El Paso to get some papers signed by a judge who used to live in South Carolina. Unfortunately, when Payne arrives, he finds that the judge (Henry Hull) is a drunk and the town is run by an evil boss (Sterling Hayden) whose aim is to steal away everyone's land. Can Payne use the law to his advantage or will he and his new friends have to take the law into their own hands?

The evil boss-man theme is a very, very familiar one in American films of this era--perhaps THE most familiar. I am pretty sure it was used long before it was in "Birth of a Nation" (this was an evil boss film despite its sick racist message). Because it's become a bit of a cliché, "El Paso" certainly lacks originality. But, despite the familiar, the film is handled well on several levels. While the boss-man story is overused, using an alcoholic judge to help make the land-grab 'legal' was an inspired change to the standard story. Additionally, Payne and Hayden are both good actors and make the most of the material. In addition, it was nice to see the way Mexicans were handled in the film. Too often, they are simpletons in westerns, but here they are both noble AND manly--with Eduardo Noriega's character being one of the better ones in this era. Along for the ride is old reliable Gabby Hayes for a nice bit of comic relief. In addition, while the film might be a bit blood-thirsty, it sure did make it exciting and better than the usually over-sanitized western of the day. The overall package manages to breath life into an ancient sort of story and makes the film a lot better than it should be. Worth seeing--particularly if you like westerns.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 4 / 10

Law And Order Breaks Down

I think El Paso started out to be a much more ambitious western than it eventually turned out. There was a lot more potential there than for what did eventually make it to the screen.

Except for a short subject he did at Warner Brothers in 1939 El Paso was the first western that John Payne did and he definitely seemed comfortable in the genre. He plays a lawyer and former Confederate veteran who goes west to El Paso from Charleston, South Carolina in search of an old friend of Payne's grandfather H.B. Warner.

That friend is Henry Hull who went west with his daughter Gail Russell for health reasons and is now a drunken pawn of town boss Sterling Hayden. With Hull as judge and sheriff Dick Foran to enforce some trumped up foreclosures, Hayden's grabbing all the real estate he can in and around El Paso from veterans who were not paying taxes while they were fighting in the Civil War.

Payne tries it the legal way, but he's learned a few things as well in those war years. When it doesn't work he finds himself leader of a guerrilla band who are exacting justice after a couple of murders of cast members sympathetic to Payne.

Editing was pretty botched in El Paso. There are references during the film to scenes that were obviously cut out. The film also seemed to be building to a terrific climax and the end was quite a let down. You'll see what I mean if you view the film.

El Paso was produced by Pine-Thomas Productions, two guys with the first name of William. William Pine was Cecil B. DeMille's associate producer on several of his earlier epics from the Thirties and I think he was expecting a DeMille like budget and didn't get it. So cuts were made that I think spoiled the overall quality of the film.

Still fans of the western and of John Payne will like it. Note the comic relief performances of Mary Beth Hughes as Stagecoach Nell and Gabby Hayes for once an Easterner in a western.

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