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Santa Fe Passage
Western, Favorite

1955 | 4:3 | COLOR | Quality: Excellent

John Payne

Rod Cameron

Faith Domergue



John Payne is Kirby Randolph - a clever and rugged scout who, along with his faithful sidekick Slim Pickens, helps Wagon Trains navigate the famed Santa Fe trail. When Randolph gets wise to a planned attack upon his people by a warlike Kiowa chief named "Satank" (George Keymas), he decides to try to outsmart the chief by swindling him in a trade in exchange for safe passage. At first he thinks he has succeeded, but not long afterwards he learns that Satank has outsmarted him and the wagon party was slaughtered. To make matters worse, Kirby's reputation is completely destroyed and nobody wants to hire him. Bitter and angry, Payne blames the Indians for his misfortune and spouts all the racist diatribes he can muster. Fortunately, his luck changes for the better when he comes across a party in desperate need of a scout. What he doesn't know is that this particular wagon train is carrying a precious cargo that the Kiowa Indians want very badly! Complicating matters even further is the beautiful Aurelie St. Clair (Faith Domergue) who catches the eye of both the rugged wagon-master, Jess Griswold (Rod Cameron) and Payne. Action-a-plenty erupts as Payne must deal with the murderous Indians, the jealous Rod Cameron, scheming wagon-hands, the fiery Faith Domergue - as well as clear his name and settle his personal grudge with the formidable chief Satank!

Quite possibly William Witney's best film, Santa Fe Passage seems to have been almost completely forgotten and overlooked - even escaping the eye of almost every major movie critic. Made on an "A" budget and boasting many expansive fight scenes and some truly impressive horse-riding, this little gem was photographed almost entirely on actual locations in Utah. Director Witney and cinematographer Bud Thackery make such fantastic use of desert browns and reds sharply outlined against powerful blue skylines, the film overcomes the Trucolor limitations and is really quite stunning to watch - serving as a prime example of how thoughtful cinematography can really aid a picture. It's also chock full of action and great stunts (never mind that some of the stunt players are a little too obvious at times) which are directed with a no small degree of style, pace and vigor. One really interesting sideshow in this film is the presence of Hollywood workhorse Irene Tedrow as an old Indian squaw. You will spend a good deal of time wondering where you have seen her before, because she looks so different here: stone-faced, smeared with tan make-up, borrowing eyebrows left over from Groucho Marx and speaking 3 octaves lower than usual - some of her scenes are unintentionally hysterically funny. No viewer of Tedrow as Miss Lucy Elkins on "Dennis the Menace" could ever have envisioned that she once played this role in a movie! The interesting support cast also includes legendary Slim Pickens who comes across as authentic and entertaining. Rod Cameron does what he does best - tough, grizzled, and towering over everyone with his 6'5 frame. He lines up with Leo Gordon who gives his usual study in villainy. No expense was spared on full throttle running inserts for the action spots - very impressive and surprising for a B studio like Republic. A fast-moving, entertaining and exciting western with a style all its own!

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