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HISTORY

Although the film was shot in Technicolor, the viewed print was in black-and-white. Nedrick Young is credited onscreen and in all contemporary sources as the film's story writer, but Alvah Bessie was the actual author. According to an Oct 1997 HR news item, Young fronted for Bessie, who had been blacklisted as a member of the Hollywood Ten. Bessie's credit for Passage West was officially recognized by the Writers Guild in 1997. HR news items add Roderic Redwing , John Hilton, Tim Graham, Gayle Kellogg, Paul Kerbish, Gregg Barton, Tom Ingraham and Hank Mann to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Although an early pre-production news item stated that location filming would take place in Colorado, exteriors were actually shot in Rosamond, CA, in the westernmost section of the Mojave Desert, according to studio publicity and news ... More Less

Although the film was shot in Technicolor, the viewed print was in black-and-white. Nedrick Young is credited onscreen and in all contemporary sources as the film's story writer, but Alvah Bessie was the actual author. According to an Oct 1997 HR news item, Young fronted for Bessie, who had been blacklisted as a member of the Hollywood Ten. Bessie's credit for Passage West was officially recognized by the Writers Guild in 1997. HR news items add Roderic Redwing , John Hilton, Tim Graham, Gayle Kellogg, Paul Kerbish, Gregg Barton, Tom Ingraham and Hank Mann to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Although an early pre-production news item stated that location filming would take place in Colorado, exteriors were actually shot in Rosamond, CA, in the westernmost section of the Mojave Desert, according to studio publicity and news items. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 May 1951.
---
Daily Variety
24 May 51
p. 3.
Film Daily
31 May 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 50
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 50
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Aug 50
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Aug 50
p. 4, 8.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 50
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 50
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
24 May 51
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1997.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Jul 1951.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
26 May 51
p. 861.
New York Times
31 Aug 51
p. 12.
Newsweek
9 Jul 1951.
---
Variety
30 May 51
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
Wrt for the screen by
From a story by
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Supv art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus score
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Buffalo Gal (Won't You Come Out Tonight)," words and music by William Cool White
"Sweet Betsy from Pike" and "I Gave My Love a Cherry (The Riddle Song)," traditional.
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1951
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: week of 12 July 1951
Production Date:
early June--early August 1950 at General Service Studios
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 July 1951
Copyright Number:
LP1168
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
80
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14817
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 1864, on the arid westward trail near Salt Lake, six prison escapees led by Pete Black spot a California-bound wagon train and descend on it. Interrupting a child's funeral, Pete and his men demand food, clothing and refuge, and the wagon train's leader, preacher Jacob Karns, complies without question. When the rifle-toting Pete insists that the train depart immediately, however, settler Rose Billings and the dead child's father, Ben Johnson, angrily protest. Fearing for the group's safety, Jacob gives orders to push on and instructs Ben to finish the burial himself and catch up to the train. Later, Pete questions Jacob about the black-clad Rose, whom Jacob is expected to marry, and Jacob reveals that she is mourning her father, a preacher who died just before the train's departure. Soon after, Ben's wife Myra stops her wagon, declaring that Ben cannot catch up without food and water. Pete is unsympathetic, however, and refuses to wait. When Curly, one of his men, gets fresh with Rose, Pete attacks him with his whip. Rose, in turn, grabs the whip and strikes Pete, impressing him with her spunk. The train then resumes its course, and the unrelenting pace demanded by the escapees begins to take its toll on the settlers. Soon, two traders approach from the west and advise the settlers not to cross the upcoming flats. That evening, Ben stumbles into the train's camp and boldy informs Pete that he met up with the traders and told them about the escapees. The next day, the train comes to a fork in the trail, and Pete demands that they cross the flats to ... +


In 1864, on the arid westward trail near Salt Lake, six prison escapees led by Pete Black spot a California-bound wagon train and descend on it. Interrupting a child's funeral, Pete and his men demand food, clothing and refuge, and the wagon train's leader, preacher Jacob Karns, complies without question. When the rifle-toting Pete insists that the train depart immediately, however, settler Rose Billings and the dead child's father, Ben Johnson, angrily protest. Fearing for the group's safety, Jacob gives orders to push on and instructs Ben to finish the burial himself and catch up to the train. Later, Pete questions Jacob about the black-clad Rose, whom Jacob is expected to marry, and Jacob reveals that she is mourning her father, a preacher who died just before the train's departure. Soon after, Ben's wife Myra stops her wagon, declaring that Ben cannot catch up without food and water. Pete is unsympathetic, however, and refuses to wait. When Curly, one of his men, gets fresh with Rose, Pete attacks him with his whip. Rose, in turn, grabs the whip and strikes Pete, impressing him with her spunk. The train then resumes its course, and the unrelenting pace demanded by the escapees begins to take its toll on the settlers. Soon, two traders approach from the west and advise the settlers not to cross the upcoming flats. That evening, Ben stumbles into the train's camp and boldy informs Pete that he met up with the traders and told them about the escapees. The next day, the train comes to a fork in the trail, and Pete demands that they cross the flats to save time and subdues Ben when he tries to challenge him with a gun. A dust storm then rages, and settler Emil Ludwig's beloved cow Judy dies. Without Judy's milk, Jacob's brother Michael's baby also dies, leaving Michael's wife Minna in deep shock. As feared, the flats turn to mud during a sudden rainstorm, and Pete instructs everyone to dump their belongings to lighten the wagons. Rose refuses to throw out a chest of her clothes and draws a gun on Pete, but Pete quickly overpowers and kisses her. He then tosses the chest back in her wagon, and when the train finally reaches a river, Rose bathes and changes out of her mourning clothes into a frilly dress. Rose's fresh outfit infuriates the other women, particularly aspiring saloon singer Nellie McBride, who attacks her. Jacob intercedes on Rose's behalf, but quietly criticizes her vanity. Jacob and Pete then become embroiled in a vicious fight, which ends with Pete's defeat. That same night, Curly suggests to Pete that he, Pete and fellow escapee Al steal the train's money. Pete dismisses Curly's idea, but the next morning, the money is discovered missing, and Pete, Al and Curly absent. Soon after, Pete rides into camp with his men and the money, having been shot in the back by Curly. Rose convinces Jacob to remove the bullet and nurse him while the train pushes on. That night, Pete asks Jacob about his past, and Jacob admits that he was once a wild young man. When Jacob observes that because of his reckless youth, he became a compassionate man, Pete grows reflective. The next day, near their final destination, the settlers stop in Angels' Creek, California, to purchase supplies. Despite Jacob's invitation to remain, Pete declares that he and his men are "bad apples" and must leave. Rose assumes that Jacob sent Pete away because of jealousy, and on the pretext of helping Nellie obtain her singing job, goes to the saloon to look for Pete. Nellie, who has forgiven Rose, finds Pete first and begs him to discourage the romance. Though he loves Rose, Pete acts indifferent toward her and calls her a fool. Just then, word comes of both the Emancipation Proclamation and the escapees' prison break. Because the wanted poster includes a description of runaway slave Rainbow, the escapees' black member, Pete decides they cannot hide in town and orders them back to the settlers. Still angry and hurt, Rose objects to the men's return, but Jacob welcomes them. Sometime later, as the settlers are nearing completion on their new town, Pete and his men discover gold while blasting in a cave. Curly and Pete are immediately excited, but Jacob cautions that the town is not ready for overnight wealth. Although Pete sees the wisdom of Jacob's words, Curly is greedy, and he and Pete fight. Soon, all of the escapees are shooting at one another in the cave, and Pete is wounded. After instructing Michael to tell Rose "she's free," Pete grabs a lantern and throws it into a powder keg. As a stunned Rose and Jacob watch outside, an explosion rocks the cave, sealing the entrance. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.