Critical consensus holds that director Michael Curtiz’s work suffered when he left Warner Bros. in the mid-’50s but this unjustly neglected Western drama proves that the director still had a lot of good work left in him. The film, presented in a world premiere restoration, combines the scenic splendor of Utah with a sensitive story of a widowed Confederate veteran (Alan Ladd), his mute son (Ladd’s son David) and the farm woman (Olivia de Havilland) who tries to help them. There’s plenty of Western action, as Ladd tries to save her from a land grab, but the real focus is on relationships, with the three creating a new family unit. Curtiz asked de Havilland, his Warner Bros. colleague, to take the distinctly unglamorous role even though she had not made a film in the U.S. in three years. She was happy to leave Hollywood trappings behind, and the friendships she forged with the two Ladds add poignancy to the film. So does the boy’s relationship with his dog, Lance, a border collie played by an award-winning sheepdog. Following in his father’s footsteps, independent producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr. gave the film the kind of quality— with strong work from cinematographer Ted D. McCord and composer Jerome Moross—typically associated with “The Goldwyn Touch.”

(d. Michael Curtiz, 103m, Digital) 

World Premiere Restoration


In attendance: David Ladd