Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Canyon Passage - 1946

Last night on Turner Classic Movies, they showed the 1946 western, Canyon Passage.  This was the film's TCM premier.  I wasn't around in 1946 and this movie was apparently among that group of films that wasn't considered important enough to be kept in front of the public, so I had never seen it.  Who is it that gets to decide what movies are important?

I enjoyed the film.  The cast of stars was impressive, with Dana Andrews, Brian Donlevy and Susan Hayward leading.  It is a story of love and adventure in the far Oregon frontier, with Andrews running a hauling business with ambitions to start the first stagecoach line, after some roads are built.  It was a major production in color, with music, a huge cast, and sprawling scenery.

Now, to the good stuff!  The minor roles were also filled with talent.  Andy Devine (1905 - 1977) in his prime, but not only Andy, we also see his two children, Tad and Denny.  This is Tad's only film, and Denny only made two.  Andy had 185 roles through the years, with a lot of TV included.

Hoagy Carmichael (1899 - 1981) appears as (you guessed it) a musician...riding a donkey while playing a mandolin in his first scene in this film.  If you listen closely, he calls his mandolin Mandy.  Hoagy is most famous for his wonderful music, and it is heard on the soundtrack of 178 productions so far.  He also acted in a dozen movies including To Have and Have Not (1944) which was Lauren Bacall's first film, and Hoagy's second.  He also appeared on TV and he was a regular on "Laramie" in the early 1960's, plus many other roles.

Lloyd Bridges is here in his 64th role.  He worked hard in his early years.  Canyon Passage was made only ten years after Bridges started acting in film.

Last, let me mention a name I just happened to click on, and found a treasure.  Jack Clifford (1880 - 1956) had an uncredited part as a miner.  He began his career as a dancer and actor, and started making films in 1906.  He made close to 120 movies, and worked with Cecil B. DeMille, W. C. Fields, Gary Cooper, Shirley Temple, John Wayne and most of the great cowboy stars of the 30's and 40's.  The only decent picture of him I could easily find was from the very early 20th Century.  I am sure he looked different in 1946.

I caught Canyon Passage on my DVR, so now I get to watch it again.  You always see better the second time!  Maybe this time I will see Jack Clifford.

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