Randolph Scott takes the lead in Westbound, a Western that unusually stakes its colours to the Union, rather than Confederate, side of the fence. Scott is John Hayes, a Union army officer sent to the town of Julesberg to ensure that gold from the California mines arrives to finance the war effort. Unfortunately, Julesberg is a Confederate sympathising town and even more unfortunately, the Confederates are led by Andrew Duggan, a wealthy man who is married to Scott’s old flame Virginia Mayo.
Duggan is determined to prevent the gold getting through at any cost – even to the point of killing children – and Duggan’s gang of villains have some lethal plans made for Scott. What’s more, Scott’s emotional life is complicated when he is attracted to Mayo and young blonde Kelly Steele, both of whom are married to other men. So when he’s faced with Duggan’s gang who are determined to kill him, he’s prepared to go to fight to stay alive, but still has to decide what woman he loves more…
The BFI Companion To The Western says of director Boetticher: [he] “is the perfect example of the auteur: his Westerns gain immeasurably when viewed as a totality. This is especially true of the series with Randolph Scott… Working in the tradition of the B-Western, Boetticher achieved works of great beauty, formally precise in structure and elegant, notably in their use of the distinctive landscape of the California Sierras.”
Said Variety: this “should run considerably in the black for the Burbank filmmakers” and ” Westbound combines the essential… element of greed, jealousy and hate to come up with a more than passable story by Berne Giler and Albert Shelby LeVino… Boetticher’s direction keeps the action at properly spaced peaks, thus bringing the chases, gun battles and ambushes right out where audiences get lost in their excitement… All concerned handle their roles well, Scott coming across strong, with Miss Steele and Michael Dante… turning in excellent performances. Michael Pate is fine as the heavy, with good work coming from Miss Mayo and Duggan as well as the supporting players Wally Brown, John Day and Walter Barnes”.
USA / 1959
Director: Budd [Oscar] Boetticher
Writers: Albert Shelby LeVino and Berne Giler, who also wrote the novel
Cast: Randolph Scott, Virginia Mayo, Andrew Duggan, Michael Dante, Karen Steele, Michael Pate, Walter Barnes, Wally Brown, John Day,