Two friends return home after their discharge from the army after the Civil War. However, one of them has had deep-rooted psychological damage due to his experiences during the war, and as his behavior becomes more erratic--and violent--his friend desperately tries to find a way to help him.
War can do strange things to a man.
The end of the Civil War is nigh and one last pocket of Confederate resistance is holed up at Jacob's Gorge. Knowing their time is up they hoist the white flag in surrender. Union Colonel Owen Devereaux sees the white flag but orders the attack anyway. Returning home with his friend and colleague, Capt. Del Stewart, Devereaux grows ever more erratic by the day, his friends, his loves and all who cross him, are sure to pay if they can't rein in his madness.
Starring Glenn Ford as Devereaux and William Holden as Stewart, directed by Henry Levin, The Man from Colorado, from a story by Borden Chase, is an intriguing psychological Western. The story follows the theme of a man ravaged by war and his inability to let go of the anger and mistrust gnawing away at him. Perfectly essayed by Ford as Devereaux (great to see him donning some bad guy boots), the film is rather grim in context. Light on action (no bad thing here at all) it's with the dialogue driven characters that Levin's film really triumphs. Having both become lawmen, it would have been easy for all to just play out a standard oater as the two friends are driven apart by not only their different levels of sanity (Holden's Stewart is an excellent counter point to Ford's blood thirst), but also the love of a good woman (Ellen Drew's petite Caroline Emmet). However, Chase's story has other elements to keep it from ever being formulaic. There's a deep political thread involving power and those entrusted with it, while the treatment of returning soldiers is firmly given prominence. Here the "boys" return after 3 years of being knee deep in blood and bone, to find that their claims are no longer valid. Snaffled by a greedy corporate type, thus as the "boys" look to the law for help?...
As a story it has substance of depth, how nice to also find that there are smart technical aspects to harness the screenplay. The Simi Valley location work is fabulous, most appealing. William E. Snyder's cinematography work is top draw, arguably his best work in the Western genre. It's fair to say that even a "c" grade Western can look nice if given a good transfer, but when the Technicolor print is good, you can tell the difference big time, and this piece is first rate. The dusty orange and browns of the scenery fabulously envelopes the blue uniforms, while the green and gold glow lamps are vivid and shine bright as if extra characters in the piece. Even Ford's greying temples have a classy sheen to them, almost belying his characters anger. All Western fans simply must hone into High Definition TV because although we always knew how fabulous these pictures looked, now it's another dimension of rewards unbound.
As the finale comes in a blaze of fire welcome to hell!), The Man from Colorado has achieved the two essential Western requirements if it wants to be taken seriously - one is that it looks gorgeous, the other is that it has strong thematics to drive it forward - this has both. Hooray! 8/10
Columbia Pictures by Henry Levin, Robert Hardy Andrews, Ben Maddow, Borden Chase.
Stars: Glenn Ford, William Holden, Ellen Drew, Ray Collins.
Genres: Romance, Western
Keywords: arson hanging horse chase
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