This remake of a remake was Robert “Bob” Mitchum’s first
film with a starring role. He plays the title character, “Nevada,” in a story
about gold rush crooks trying to swindle folks out of their ranches and
prospecting claims. They've discovered that the worthless “blue stuff” being dug up is really
rich in silver. But Mitchum foils their plans.
Plot. Mitchum is
riding with two sidekicks, Dusty (Guinn “Big Boy” Williams) and Chito Rafferty
(Richard Martin). Winning $7,000 shooting dice at a saloon, Mitchum has to
make a hasty exit as he declines to give the angry saloonkeeper a chance to win
back the money. Chased out of town, the three friends split up.
When Mitchum rides up on a man who's been ambushed and left lying in the road, he is discovered standing over the body by a sheriff
and posse who arrive on the scene. They assume Mitchum killed the man for the money he is carrying. They
don’t believe it is gambling winnings, and they haul him off to jail.
A woman (Anne Jeffreys) who runs a gambling hall in town recognizes
Mitchum as the man who rescued her and a wagonload of her dancing girls in reel one when she lost control of
her team of horses. He seems hardly a killer to her, she says. But
as the only banker in town, she happens to know that the dead man was carrying
|Robert "Bob" Mitchum as Nevada|
Trail pals Williams and Martin bust Mitchum out of jail with
a clever ruse, inciting a lynch mob to break into the jail. Once he’s out in
the street and on a horse with a rope around his neck, the three of them race off out
The villain of the story (Craig Reynolds) and his henchman
(Harry Woods), as we’ve known all along, are the ones who killed the old man
and took his money. Reynolds and Jeffreys are old friends, and he lets her in
on the secret that he’s buying up local land before anyone discovers there are rich deposits of silver under it.
After a comparison of bank notes, Jeffreys learns that
Mitchum was not carrying the stolen money. He's been telling the truth. There’s a lot of riding back and forth and
a couple of fistfights as justice slowly takes its course. Reynolds shoots his
partner, Woods, to keep him quiet, and Mitchum persuades a mining engineer to
assay a sample of the ore believed to be worthless. Lo, it’s found to be rich with silver.
Woods, with his dying breaths, reveals to Jeffreys that he
and Reynolds did the dirty work of killing and robbing the old man. There’s a
final confrontation between Mitchum, Reynolds, and Jeffreys, in which Reynolds
accidentally puts a bullet through Jeffreys. Mortally wounded, she is seated in
a chair where she can look out the window with a pleasant view of the state of
Nevada as she calmly dies.
B+ for a B-western. This
short, 62-minute film is an above-average B-western. Mitchum is excellent, with
that wonderfully cool presence he brought to so many roles in his career. He
doesn’t know fear, Jeffreys says of his character early on, and it’s clear that
he doesn’t. Mitchum’s movements are casual and unhurried, his stance relaxed. Note the way he wears his hat on the back of his head.
Always he has that unsmiling poker face, eyes not quite
fully open, as if he is quietly taking the measure of whoever he’s talking to.
If his face registers anything, it’s with a slight raising of the eyebrows, as
if to say, “Is that so.”
His saddle partners are not just sidekicks, with roles
played for laughs. They are friends rather than the usual foils of the cowboy hero,
and they have key parts to play in the plot. The role of the whiskery buffoon,
a stock character in B-westerns, is a barfly called Pancake, played by
character actor Emmett Lynn.
Also, for added value, the film includes an instructive scene in which the mining engineer (Edmund Glover) actually fires a sample of ore to assay its ingredients and value. There is frequent mention of assayers in early western novels, but I don't recall ever seeing the job done on screen before.
Curiously, while Mitchum has a couple of dust-ups with the
villains, including a fistfight that nearly rips off his shirt, he never fires a gun at them. One of the villains is
mortally shot by the other, who also pulls the trigger that fells Jeffreys in
the last scene. For all his misdeeds, he is taken away at the end by townfolk, presumably to get a fair trial before being hanged.
You might expect Mitchum and Jeffreys to end up in each other’s
arms, but this western is short on romance. Another girl in the cast (Nancy
Gates) has scenes with Mitchum, but she’s a peripheral character who doesn’t
make the grade as a love interest.