7.2/10
3,768
50 user 36 critic

Dodge City (1939)

Approved | | Western | 8 April 1939 (USA)
A Texas cattle agent witnesses first hand, the brutal lawlessness of Dodge City and takes the job of sheriff to clean the town up.

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Writer:

(original screen play)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ruby Gilman
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Joe Clemens
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Matt Cole
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Harry Cole
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Mrs. Cole
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Storyline

Dodge City. A wide-open cattle town run by Jeff Surrett. Even going on a children's Sunday outing is not a safe thing to do. What the place needs is a fearless honest Marshal. A guy like Wade Hatton, who helped bring the railroad in. It may not help that he fancies Abbie Irving, who won't have anything to do with him since he had to shoot her brother. But that's the West. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's Errol Flynn In His Greatest Role . . . A picture for every red-blooded son and daughter of the stars and stripes ! See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 April 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Esclavos del oro  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Olivia de Havilland regarded the project as a career letdown. She was tired of the string of ingenue parts Warners steadily provided, and her preference for the saloon singer role that went to Ann Sheridan went unheeded. "It was a period in which she was given to constant fits of crying and long days spent at home in bed," declared Tony Thomas in "The Films of Olivia de Havilland" (Citadel Press). "She was bored with her work and while making 'Dodge City' she claims that she even had trouble remembering her lines." See more »

Goofs

During the stampede caused by the gunshots, the same covered wagon is seen being knocked over twice from different camera angles about 18-19 seconds apart. See more »

Quotes

Jeff Surrett: You see, I make $100,000 a year one way or another. Frankly, I don't need that much money. So naturally, I'd be willing to make a deal with anybody that would, uh, well, sort of see things my way. Make a mighty good deal for both of us.
Wade Hatton: You mean a little friendly bribery, huh?
Jeff Surrett: Well, you can catch more flies with molasses than you can with vinegar.
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Connections

Featured in 100 Years of the Hollywood Western (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Life Is Like a Mighty River
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung by the ladies in the Pure Prairie League
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User Reviews

"Dodge City Will Be Cleaned Up"
19 March 1999 | by See all my reviews

Michael Curtiz directed this large-scale western. Colour is used to great effect in this early experiment with the new process. For the first half of the film, while characters and storyline are being established, the Technicolor palette is restrained, keeping mostly to browns and ochres. As Errol Flynn's character, Wade Hatton, emerges as the hero, colour begins to reinforce meaning. Wade wears a succession of impressive shirts (prussian blue, plum). Others wear plaid, but Wade's shirts are each of a single hue, emphasising his monolithic moral certainty. Wade is a bigger man than the others, and he wears a bigger hat.

Dodge is a wild cattle town. The railhead for transport back to the 'civilised' United States, it is the point to which Texan cattle are driven. The interface of rail and hoof is significant. When the cowpokes hit town after weeks on the trail they have a strong inclination to kick up their heels, and bulging pay packets with which to do it. There is no effective law in Dodge, and gunfights are commonplace. Powerful cattle dealers like Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot) cheat the merchants with impunity. Dodge City needs a strong, principled man if it is to change its lawless ways.

The film's opening image is a train hurtling westward at full throttle, a symbol of the burgeoning industrial strength of the USA, and of the Manifest Destiny which is already turning America's energies towards the Pacific and obliterating the frontier. We see the train slicing across the magnificent Kansas plains, and 'racing' the stagecoach. Machines are supplanting horses, and the train wins the race.

Olivia de Havilland is at her wide-eyed prettiest as Abbie Erving, the young woman who treks north with the cattle and eventually falls in love with the handsome sherriff. Flynn is an aussie actor playing an Irishman in Kansas, and both he and de Havilland are terrific as the romantic leads. A young Ann Sheridan plays Ruby the showgirl, Alan Hale is Rusty the abstemious cowhand and Ward Bond is Taylor the minor baddie. Victor Jory has fun playing Yancey, the mean ornery villain with the straggly beard.

Wade Hatton personifies the American Way. An immigrant who has done well for himself by dint of hard work, sharp intelligence and plenty of talent, he is fearless when it comes to protecting the weak or righting wrongs. When the call comes to pin on a badge and restore law and order to Dodge City, he doesn't hesitate. Wade stands up to an angry lynch mob, even though the 'victim' is a worthless crook.

A liberal alliance between the new sherriff and the town's newspaper proposes to bring down the evil Surrett. The newspaper's office has a portrait of Abe Lincoln on the wall. Appropriately, a killer is brought to justice because his hand is stained with indelible printer's ink - serving notice on all bad guys that the Press will always be there to expose wrongdoing.

The clowning is well done. Watch for the cowpoke who has his head driven against a post, or Flynn athletically tripping, falling and being hit in the back by a swing door. Rusty preaches temperance, but is gradually overcome by the tempting sounds of the saloon punch-up.

Wade's clean-up policy is depicted skilfully in the scene where a newspaper headline dissolves into the arrival of peaceful settlers by train, showing us neatly how Dodge is being tamed.

Verdict - A good-natured western with appealing performances by Flynn and de Havilland.


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