El Paso (1949)

101 or 103 mins | Western | 1 April 1949

Director:

Lewis R. Foster

Writer:

Lewis R. Foster

Cinematographer:

Ellis W. Carter

Editor:

Howard Smith

Production Designer:

Lewis H. Creber

Production Company:

Pine-Thomas Productions
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HISTORY

HR news items reported the following about the production: William Holden was considered for the lead role in this film. Some exterior shots were filmed in El Paso, TX and other scenes were shot on location in Gallup, AZ, and at several ranches in the San Fernando Valley, CA. El Paso was the first high-budget feature made by the producing team of William H. Pine and William C. Thomas, who were popularly known as "The Dollar Bills" because of their ability to produce quality low-budget films. The picture was also their first color feature, and cost approximately $1,000,000 to make, according to a NYT ... More Less

HR news items reported the following about the production: William Holden was considered for the lead role in this film. Some exterior shots were filmed in El Paso, TX and other scenes were shot on location in Gallup, AZ, and at several ranches in the San Fernando Valley, CA. El Paso was the first high-budget feature made by the producing team of William H. Pine and William C. Thomas, who were popularly known as "The Dollar Bills" because of their ability to produce quality low-budget films. The picture was also their first color feature, and cost approximately $1,000,000 to make, according to a NYT article. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Mar 1949.
---
Daily Variety
28 Feb 49
p. 3, 14
Film Daily
25 Feb 49
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 47
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 48
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 48
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 48
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Feb 49
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Feb 49
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Mar 49
p. 4523.
New York Times
17 Oct 1948.
---
New York Times
24 Mar 49
p. 35.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Based on a story by
Based on a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus score
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Cinecolor consultant
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 April 1949
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 23 March 1949
El Paso, TX opening: 28 March 1949
Production Date:
17 September--late October 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 April 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2217
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Cinecolor
Duration(in mins):
101 or 103
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
PCA No:
13510
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Charleston, South Carolina, at the close of the Civil War, Clay Fletcher, former lawyer and captain in the Confederate Army, eagerly accepts a job to travel West, not wanting to return to his legal career immediately. Clay's mission is to obtain the signature of Henry Jeffers, a criminal prosecutor whom Clay once admired, on some estate papers. On the stagecoach to El Paso, Texas, Clay's wallet is stolen by "Stagecoach" Nellie, and when he then goes into an El Paso saloon, he stumbles into an impromptu trial called by Sheriff La Farge and land developer Bert Donner. Although the defendant insists he shot a deputy in self-defense, the drunken judge summarily convicts the man. Outraged by the injustice, Clay demands a fair trial, and is found in contempt of court by the judge, who Clay discovers is Jeffers. When Clay is unable to pay the fine, Donner starts to auction off his clothing until Clay stops him with his fists. Clay is finally rescued by a Mexican rancher named Nacho Vasquez, who wins back Clay's clothing in a shooting contest with Donner. Later, Clay makes contact with Jeffers' daughter Susan, with whom he had been in love before the war. Susan now runs a ladies' hat shop in El Paso, and refuses to return to Charleston because of her father's alcoholism. Clay intends to return to Charleston immediately after getting Jeffers' signature, but when he sees his army buddy, John Elkins, being beaten by La Farge because he is behind on his taxes, Clay defends John, insisting that veterans have a grace period on their taxes. When La Farge and his gang attempt to ... +


In Charleston, South Carolina, at the close of the Civil War, Clay Fletcher, former lawyer and captain in the Confederate Army, eagerly accepts a job to travel West, not wanting to return to his legal career immediately. Clay's mission is to obtain the signature of Henry Jeffers, a criminal prosecutor whom Clay once admired, on some estate papers. On the stagecoach to El Paso, Texas, Clay's wallet is stolen by "Stagecoach" Nellie, and when he then goes into an El Paso saloon, he stumbles into an impromptu trial called by Sheriff La Farge and land developer Bert Donner. Although the defendant insists he shot a deputy in self-defense, the drunken judge summarily convicts the man. Outraged by the injustice, Clay demands a fair trial, and is found in contempt of court by the judge, who Clay discovers is Jeffers. When Clay is unable to pay the fine, Donner starts to auction off his clothing until Clay stops him with his fists. Clay is finally rescued by a Mexican rancher named Nacho Vasquez, who wins back Clay's clothing in a shooting contest with Donner. Later, Clay makes contact with Jeffers' daughter Susan, with whom he had been in love before the war. Susan now runs a ladies' hat shop in El Paso, and refuses to return to Charleston because of her father's alcoholism. Clay intends to return to Charleston immediately after getting Jeffers' signature, but when he sees his army buddy, John Elkins, being beaten by La Farge because he is behind on his taxes, Clay defends John, insisting that veterans have a grace period on their taxes. When La Farge and his gang attempt to arrest John and take his land, John shoots a deputy while defending his family, and Clay helps him escape across the border to Nacho's ranch. Clay decides to stay on in El Paso and represent John at his trial. Clay then arranges with an old trader named Pesky, whom he befriended on his journey, to take Jeffers out of town and keep him sober until the trial. La Farge attempts to murder Clay, but Clay escapes and takes refuge at Nacho's ranch, where he becomes a quick draw with his guns. A sober Jeffers exonerates John at the trial, after which Susan accepts Clay's marriage proposal. The victory celebration that night is disrupted when La Farge's gang drags Jeffers through the streets, killing him, then murders John and his wife, leaving their son Jack an orphan. Clay takes the law into his own hands and forms a vigilante group with ranchers who have been forced off their land by La Farge and Donner. After killing the men responsible for the Elkinses' deaths, the vigilantes wage a campaign of terror against anyone they believe is connected with Donner and La Farge. Distraught by the change in Clay's personality, Susan sends for his grandfather, Judge Fletcher, and they both persuade Clay that he has become as dangerous as the men he pursues. After he kills an innocent minister, Clay agrees to end the violence, but is forestalled when La Farge murders Judge Fletcher. Clay's gang then rides into El Paso in the midst of a dust storm and wages a gunfight in which Donner is killed and Jack is wounded. Clay then prevents the vigilantes from hanging La Farge by convincing them that they must end their own mob rule, and thereafter protect the rights of all people in courts of law. La Farge and his gang are arrested, and with Susan at his side, Clay returns to El Paso to launch a new era of law and order. +

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.