If you couldn’t get John Wayne, the best alternative was Randolph Scott. He just looked like a guy who walked right out of pictures of the Old West. Scott could have fought alongside Wyatt Earp and chased after Jesse James or Billy The Kid. He was tall, handsome and could ride horses without a problem.
Scott really came into his own in the 1950s in Westerns and that string of success may be attributed to 1950’s Colt .45. Directed by Edwin L. Martin, Colt .45 isn’t exactly a top-shelf Western – especially since they use Colt .44‘s in the movie – but it is far more unique than you would expect.
Scott plays Steve Farrell (could writer Thomas Blackburn have come up with a more boring name?), a Colt salesman who has the bad fortune of trying to sell a sheriff on the new Colt .45s while outlaw Jason Brett (Zachary Scott) is in the jail cell. Brett manages to break out, steals Steve’s pistols and goes on a four-month criminal rampage through the West. Steve gets mistaken for a Brett gangmember and is thrown in jail, where he sits for all four months. (Hey, he’s a good guy and good guys don’t break out of jail.)
Since this is a 74-minute movie, it doesn’t take Steve long to catch up with Brett’s “Colt .45s Gang.” (apparently, they didn’t get very far in four months.) He finds the gang wreaking havoc on Bonanza Creek (wait… so Blackburn can come up with a cool name for the town, but not his hero? What?), where the sheriff is in Brett’s pocket and cowardly mine owner Paul Donovan (Lloyd Bridges) is hiding them out. Now it’s time for Steve to gather up the local Native Americans and Paul’s suffering wife Beth (Ruth Roman) to get Brett and his gang out of town.
Randolph actually gives his standard performance here, so let’s get to the juicy stuff. Zachary Scott (no relation) is incredible as the villain. There are parts where his performance borders on parody (he has a particularly funny way of lighting up his cigarette at one point), but for the most part, he is chilling and disturbing. There is a particularly shocking moment during the final fight where he sticks his finger in the bullet hole in Randolph’s shoulder. It’s particularly gruesome for a film in this era.
Kudos also go to the vastly underrated Ruth Roman, who seems to impress me in every movie of her’s I see. Maybe I’m tricked by her beauty, but she’s very good here.
Colt .45 is definitely worth checking out, but is sadly only available in two DVD collections of Randolph Scott films. Warner Bros. released it in a Triple Feature with Forth Worth and Tall Man Riding and in a 4-Film Favorites set that adds the incredible classic Ride The High Country. It all depends on whether you have Ride alone or not, but it’s worth it. (Well, it’s worth the $5 I spent for the 4-pack.)
Warner Bros. Pictures Presents
Randolph Scott and Ruth Roman in Colt .45 with Zachary Scott, Lloyd Bridges
Written by Thomas Blackburn
Directed by Edwin L. Martin
74 minutes, 1.33:1