Monday, August 26, 2019

Deadwood Pass

This 1933 black-and-white film is only 62 minutes long but it packs a punch.  Tom Tyler (whose real name was Vincent Markowski) plays Tom Whitlock, aka Tom Saddler, aka the Hawk, in Deadwood Pass.  He's an escaped convict, though the movie doesn’t say from which penitentiary.  He returns to his old gang, hiding out in a place called Deadwood Pass, to retrieve the treasure he hid before he was caught and sent up for 20 years.  Well, that’s what the audience is supposed to believe.

Although the technical quality of the move wasn’t great, by which I mean there was some background static and tiny spots and faint lines in frames, especially in the beginning, there were a few aspects that made Deadwood Pass interesting to watch.  The plot was clever and had some good twists and turns.  However, much of the film consisted of typical Western movie scenes: a stagecoach chase, girl meets boy and they flirt, a saloon fight, a Mexican dancing girl, a shootout, the sheriff and posse riding to hopefully save the day.

What I most liked about Deadwood Pass was the role of the Mexican outlaw.  He turned out to be more than a stereotype, even though he wasn’t played by a Latino actor (Merrill McCormick).  It was amusing when he was first called Felip and then, later in the movie, Felipe.

Butch Cassidy was the leader of the gang in Deadwood Pass but there was nothing to identify him with the historical figure.  The other gang members weren’t identified by name.  At one point, Hawk wears Butch’s hat and coat, rides into the nearby town, and is mistaken for Cassidy.  You’d think an outlaw with the reputation Butch Cassidy had would know better than to wear clothes that made him instantly recognizable.

And you’d expect a movie named Deadwood Pass to be set in or near Deadwood, South Dakota, but this Deadwood Pass was clearly located somewhere else and, in fact, the movie was filmed in California.  The one thing it had in common with ASJ was the lookout at the entrance to the pass, like the one in Return to Devil’s Hole.

The dialog was often clichéd and there were often long stretches without any dialog at all.  Also, I was struck by the lack of background music.  Deadwood Pass was clearly a movie made between the silent film era and before talking movies really came into their own.