Monday, April 15, 2013

Stagecoach to Fury

The double meaning of the title of this 75-minute black-and-white 1956 movie soon becomes apparent.  Starring Forrest Tucker (Deputy Harker Wilkins in the Pilot) as cavalryman John Townsend and co-starring Paul Fix (Clarence in Night of the Red Dog), Stagecoach to Fury is typical B-movie fare with a few interesting touches. 

Forrest Tucker is immediately recognizable, not least because he is by far the tallest person in the cast.  He plays a shotgun messenger to Paul Fix’s stagecoach driver, Tim.  They are carrying a group of passengers through John Ford country, on a stagecoach from the appropriately-named Navajo Passenger Stage Lines.

Stopping at a waystation, they are captured by Mexican bandits who want the gold they believe the stage is carrying.  From then on, Stagecoach to Fury alternates between telling the personal histories of three of the passengers and showing the determination of the others to prevent the bandits from finding the gold. 

The three stories are told through flashbacks and reveal the reasons why those people ended up as passengers on this particular stagecoach.  There is little character development of the other four passengers — one of whom ends up dead very early on — or of the Mexicans, who frequently speak Spanish which isn’t translated, which, in my opinion, makes the movie more realistic.

There is a flashback scene in Stagecoach to Fury that reminded me of the scene in The Posse That Wouldn’t Quit when Belle Jordan confronts the sheriff of the posse tracking Heyes and Curry.  As in that episode, the scene here shows a woman stepping outside her home to confront two men who have been tracking someone.  However, who the good guys and the bad guys are is reversed in this movie's scene.

The premise of Stagecoach to Fury — a group of strangers trapped in a small room or building by some antagonistic force beyond their control — has been filmed numerous times.   Budd Boeticher’s The Tall T on the big screen and, on TV, The Virginian episode Strangers at Sundown immediately came to mind.  Despite that, the twists in this movie make it an enjoyable afternoon diversion.