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Albuquerque (1948)

by on 2012/06/23

“Strange, isn’t it? How one person can become so important in your life …that without them nothing else seems to matter.”

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Legendary western actor Randolph Scott was square. Square jawed, square dealing. Square.

For all my years of western watching – I was raised on Gunsmoke and Clint Eastwood Spaghetti westerns – I was unaware of the sublimity of the Randolph Scott western. It wasn’t until Hacker Renders showed me Seven Men From Now that I knew.

I had been missing something amazing. Something square.

I do like square. Randolph Scott played some characters that were epically decent, honest and principled. Randolph Scott is chiseled, bronzed, slide-rule square as Cole Armin, a former Texas ranger looking for work in New Mexico.

Instead of a job, he finds his uncle John Armin (George Cleveland) running a corrupt business and running a town into the ground.

To be honest, this western is more a tale about building a business than almost anything else. There’s a big transport company in town and there’s a little transport company in town. Both serve the mines.

One is corrupt and greedy. The other is customer-service oriented and decent. No, really… Sound exciting? No, I didn’t think so either.

What makes this movie more than ‘what brown can do for you,’ is Mr. Scott. He’s fun to watch. He’s fun while courting the handsome Celia Wallace (Catherine Craig). He’s cool while riding some bandits down for a lady’s purse. He’s even compelling while negotiating a deal to take some ore down one of Albuquerque’s deadliest roads.

There are also some great supporting actors that round out what would be an otherwise deadly-dull corporate morality tale. Most notably, there’s Juke, a Santa-whiskered old stagecoach driver who whistles every line of adorable, ‘crazy prospector’ dialogue through his missing upper dentures. Played by George “Gabby” Hayes, the friendship between him and Scott is the cutest.

Speaking of cute, there’s also blonde cherub Karolyn Grimes (It’s A Wonderful Life) playing the little girl Randolph Scott saves from a runaway stage coach. When Grimes looks into Scott’s eyes, you have no trouble believing he’s a hero.

In fact, he’s even heroic in an apron drying dishes, with lipstick on his hand playing puppets with kids, and shaving an old guy in a bath tub. That’s just how cool Scott is.

So in conclusion, think Discovery Channel’s Ice Road Truckers, meets Undercover Boss meets Bonanza. Sort of. I suppose I could watch Randolph Scott do just about anything, he’s that fine. And square.

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90 minutes


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