Man From Colorado, The (Columbia 1948 with William Holden and Glenn Ford)


USA / Columbia / 1948

Director: Henry Levin and (uncredited) King Vidor
Writers: Robert D Andrews, Ben Maddow, (from a story by Borden Chase)

Cast: William Holden, Glenn Ford, Ellen Drew, Ray Collins, Edgar Buchanan, Jerome Courtland, James Millican, Jim Bannon

Glenn Ford was well cast as Colonel Owen Devereaux, delivering a compelling performance as a sadistic Union colonel who, because of the horrors of combat, develops the love of killing for its own sake during the Civil War. In one incident, he deliberately gives the order to fire on a group of Confederate soldiers in spite of having seen them raise a white flag of surrender. When he is mustered out of the army after the war, Devereaux is appointed a Federal judge in Colorado. His former army friend, Captain Del Stewart (William Holden), realising that Devereaux is on the edge of insanity, obtains a job as his deputy in order to try and keep him from extreme behaviour. Unfortunately he is not always successful and Devereaux becomes hated because of his over-liberal use of death sentences in administering his version of the law.

Matters become more complex and charged with personal issues when both men fall in love with Caroline Emmet (Ellen Drew) who is uncertain of her feelings and reluctant to choose. But Devereaux angers discharged Civil War veterans by taking away their mining claims, and Stewart, sickened by Devereaux’s actions, joins them when they become outlaws. When Emmet finally chooses and marries Devereaux it is a short lived affair and she finds herself unable to stand his blood lust. She goes to join Stewart but with Devereaux in pursuit he sets fire to the building where they are hiding leaving the two rivals to battle it out as the building threatens collapse at any moment.

The Man from Colorado , in common with many Westerns, uses the genre format to comment upon contemporary events – in this case, the return of war veterans and their painful readjustment to not-always-welcoming civilian life. Holden and Ford, previously teamed in the 1941 post-Civil War Western Texas , worked well under the hard-paced direction of Henry Levin who completed most of the picture after the original director, King Vidor, was removed by Columbia head Harry Cohn for feuding with Ford.