Monday, June 6, 2011

Four Faces West (1948)




I am not a big fan of westerns. I can never get into stories about dirty cowboys running around and shooting each other and robbing God knows what then being wanted by the law. Now I know all Westerns are not like that but the ones that I have seen were and they bored me to death. I did have to make an exception with Four Faces West. I adore Frances Dee I will sit through any film I can find her in and Joel McCrea is an actor I am currently becoming a fan of.
            The plot of Four Faces West is not bad at all. McCrea plays a cowboy named Ross McEwin. He robs a bank right under the new sheriff Pat Garret’s nose. Ross only takes two thousand dollars and insists that it is a loan. There is a price on Ross’s head set by the robbed banker. All the local men and men in the surrounding areas are on the prowl for the runaway cowboy.
            When Ross goes to hide his saddle he gets bitten by a rattlesnake. At that moment he sees a train coming as well as Garret and some locals. Ross jumps on the passing train just in time. On the train he meets a nurse named Fay Hollister (Frances Dee) who treats his snake bite. Almost right away there is an attraction between the cowboy and the nurse.
            A Mexican man named Monty also happens to be on the train. He has seen policemen on the train telling the passengers to be on the lookout for a thief who has robbed a bank. Monty knows right away that Ross is that thief. He plays it cool by getting close to Ross and not letting him out of his site.
            As the film progresses Ross and Fay fall in love, he even goes so far as to give her a ring and Monty becomes a close friend instead of an opportunist. Now Ross is furiously on the run as he heads for Mexico.
            Along the way Ross redeems himself by helping a family in need and eventually turns himself in so he could be with Fay and not face death (he had to be redeemed this is when Hollywood had its code and no bad deed could go unpunished).
            One piece of trivia you will more than likely read if you ever look up Four Faces West is that there is not one shot fired or one punch thrown. It is a tame, non-traditional Western. What I really like is that Ross is not a bad guy. On the train he writes a note to his father who will be receiving the money. He stole the money for his father for some good reason and he fully intends to pay the bank back. Another difference I really liked was Fay was not the typical western damsel in distress. She was more than willing to follow Ross into any danger because she loved him and wanted to be with him no matter what happened.
            Another piece of trivia you will also read is Joel McCrea and Frances Dee were married in real life. They were married for fifty-seven years when McCrea died in the nineties. They made four films together the first one being Silver Cord in 1933 where they first met. Dee and McCrea had wonderful chemistry and it clearly shows throughout the film in their scenes. They were not over the top with showing affection we just know Fay and Ross are in love. There is an unspoken and unseen attraction which works perfectly.
            Four Faces West is a very good Western. It is not outrageously enjoyable to sit through but it has a good story. We want Ross to get away since we know he is not really a bad guy. The performances are excellent by the four principle actors which alone are worth sitting through the film for. Watch Four Faces West if you would like to see a different kind of Western.