Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews. I have now launched a podcast about the making of Westerns and the overall filmmaking process. Click here to listen.
Week 155: Carson City (1952)
In comparison to Andre De Toth’s other collaborations with Randolph Scott, Carson City seems like an outlier. Though there’s plenty of killing in it, the film feels lightweight, a tone perhaps best exemplified by a scene early on when stagecoach robbers serve their captive passenger a roasted chicken dinner and champagne.
It also has a very positive outlook overall. Randolph Scott’s hero and those around him are surprisingly optimistic, lacking the cynicism that characterizes some of De Toth’s work (and in my opinion, his best work). Unlike Man in the Saddle, The Stranger Wore a Gun, and The Bounty Hunter, the Hungarian director barely plays with darkness in this film, staging everything in the bright sunshine. I could go on and on about the differences I noticed between this film and his other work but I’ll save that for a more in-depth study.
All that said, I still enjoyed Carson City. It gets especially good in the last third and the tunnel scenes are among the film’s strongest. De Toth focuses more on community in this film, how people can band together to overcome conflict. These themes and scenes feel like they were plucked from a John Ford film but ultimately don’t seem out of place. One story element that does stick out like a sore thumb is Scott’s relationship with his brother Alan, played by Richard Webb. I never believed their familial connection, especially when it becomes so easily frayed. The writers made a big mistake with the development of these two.
Though far from their best, Carson City is a fun, entertaining entry in the De Toth/Randolph Scott series.
Watched on Amazon