Dodge City Review

Dodge City
Trail boss Wade Hatton comes to Dodge City and is shocked by the all-round violence and corruption. He reluctantly puts on a Sheriff’s badge to make the wide-open Kansas town safe for womenfolks and children.

by Kim Newman |
Published on
Release Date:

31 Mar 1939

Running Time:

104 minutes



Original Title:

Dodge City

One of the primal myth Westerns, this colourful, rip‑roaring, action‑packed Errol Flynn vehicle is based on the story of Wyatt Earp.  The dashing Flynn and his brawling pals clean up the lawless frontier town by getting rid of the bad guys (smug Bruce Cabot, snarly Victor Jory) who have been running the place only to feel suffocated when Dodge City becomes so decent it ain't fit for a man to live in and head off in a joke finish for the still‑wild Virginia City, which Flynn tamed in an unconnected follow‑up.

          Directed by Michael Curtiz, who stages the best‑ever barroom brawl in the movies as a fistfight explodes through the wall of the huge saloon and into the meeting of the Pure Prairie League next door.  Various people have claimed to have had the idea for the scene in Curtiz's Casablanca where the patriots drown a German song with 'La Marseilleise', but here, four years earlier, good‑guy ex‑rebels drown out 'Marching Through George’ with 'Dixie' in exactly the same way.

  Flynn, ably sidekicked by Alan Hale and Guinn 'Big Boy' Williams and romancing the Technicolor loveliness of Olivia de Havilland, struts and smiles with the best of them, showing his Robin Hood sincerity when the baddies kill a little kid but mostly taking it all in fun as 'the most movin-on man you ever saw'.

Made in the same year as Stagecoach, this is another super-Western, cramming in as many cowboy themes (iron horse, wagon train, cattle drive, heroic Sheriff, saloon-running varmints, march of civilisation, Civil War) as possible in one hugely entertaining package

Proper, rip-roaring Western with Errol Flynn doing the do and Olivia De Havilland being lovely.
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