Cast & Crew
In 1864, during the American Civil War, postmaster general James Fuller arranges for Capt. John Hayes, one of the best Union cavalry officers, to take control of the Overland Stage, which has expanded to transport large gold shipments from California to federal banks in support of the Union, thus enabling the army to buy guns and equipment. Although Hayes is an experienced stage line boss, he reluctantly accepts the job, knowing that the two-thousand mile trip is hazardous and Confederates want to stop the shipments at all costs. On the stage to Julesburg, Colorado, the new Overland headquarters and Hayes' former home, Hayes meets Rod Miller, a returning Union soldier who lost an arm in the war. Stopping at an inn for dinner, Willis, the proprietor and a Southern sympathizer, notices Rod's Union uniform and fills the soldier's pie with salt. After Rod complains and Willis feigns ignorance about the taste of the pie, Hayes orders Willis to eat the rest of Rod's pie as punishment. The coach's next stop is the Miller farm, where Rod's wife Jeannie eagerly greets her husband and tries quickly to adapt to his disability. Upon arriving in Julesburg, Hayes finds that the Overland Stage sign has been taken down and agent Clay Putnam, an old acquaintance, who, unknown to Hayes, is working undercover for the Confederacy, has resigned. When Hayes, suspicious of Clay's motives, asks him what happened, Clay claims that stock tenders stole the horses and supplies, then snidely remarks that he has married Norma, Hayes' former girl friend. Later, Hayes notices that Clay and the bandit Mace are at odds with the town and suspects that they are working together to stop the Union gold from reaching its destination. When Hayes confidently introduces himself to Mace, the bandit shoots the gun out of his holster, to the townspeople's amusement. Soon after, Norma comes to town to pick up Clay, and he jealously accuses her of coming to see Hayes again. When the Millers come to town, one of Mace's men heckles Rod about being a Yankee and "half a man," prompting Jeannie to punch the man. Hayes intercedes on the Millers' behalf, then accompanies them to their ranch. When Mace, who is actually employed by Clay, suggests killing Hayes, Clay warns that the federal government will investigate any murder and instead suggests Mace destroy all the Overland Stage stations. That night, after a humiliated Rod is unable to cock his gun with his one hand, Hayes gives him a sense of worth by suggesting that he and Jeannie run the Julesburg office from their farm. The couple accepts, even though Hayes warns that Mace will try to stop them. Days later, Mace and his men have destroyed several stations and stolen Overland horses up and down the line, while at the Miller farm, Union sympathizers have joined Rod and Jeannie in building station bunkhouses and a corral. Spotting the construction, Mace reports to Clay that the new Julesburg station is being built on Miller's farm. That night, Jeannie tells Hayes that she fears Rod is too easily hurt by insults, then expresses her gratitude to Hayes for giving him a chance to prove his worth. The next day, Hayes and Rod go to Lone Creek Station, where they find Willis, who reluctantly confesses at gunpoint that Russ and several other of Mace's henchmen took the horses to sell to Confederate soldiers. Hayes and Rod then find the horses, but Russ and the others begin a shootout. Rod, having adapted to his handicap, easily fends for himself with his rifle, while Hayes leads the horses out of the valley. Soon after, Hayes rides to Clay's mansion, where he finds Norma, who asks why Hayes did not write to her while he was away. As Hayes takes Norma's hand in friendship, the possessive Clay suddenly returns and states that Norma knows everything about his plans to help the Confederacy, thus establishing that Norma loves him and is loyal to the cause. Hayes replies that the stagecoach line will not be stopped and leaves. Later at the Miller ranch, Russ and his men mistake Rod for Hayes and shoot him. As they set the stage horses free, a shootout ensues in which Hayes kills Russ. When Mace rides back to the Putnam mansion to report the trouble, Norma eavesdrops as Clay and Mace argue over whether to kill those who stand in their way. Back at the Miller ranch, the doctor reports that Rod will not survive, then states that the townspeople, although Confederates, are tired of Clay's violent tactics and will support Hayes when he is ready to fight back. That afternoon, Norma arrives at the ranch to warn Hayes that Mace is preparing to kill him, but Hayes coolly asks her to leave. Near Lone Creek station, Mace and his men ambush a stage carrying gold and women and children passengers, sending it crashing over a cliff. A rancher witnesses the murder and sends his son to inform Hayes. Later, Clay, feeling guilty about the tragedy and how it besmirched the name of the Confederacy, gets increasingly drunk and orders Mace to leave Julesburg. The ruthless bandit, who feels no allegiance to the Confederacy or to Clay, refuses to stop ambushing the gold shipments and then ignites Clay's jealousy by telling him Norma visited Hayes earlier. That night Rod dies and, while Jeannie cries in Hayes's arms at the Putnam mansion, Norma tells Clay she is leaving him because of his part in the stagecoach deaths. When Clay accuses her of marrying him for money and being in love with Hayes, Norma replies that Clay's jealousy is ruining their marriage. After Norma warns him that if Hayes is harmed she will see Clay hanged, a drunken Clay decides to stop Mace, grabs his rifle and races to town. Meanwhile, Hayes walks down Julesburg's Main Street calling out to Mace, who comes out of the hotel accompanied by his men and begins shooting at Hayes. The townsmen come to Hayes's defense, however, and easily out gun the outlaws. When Clay suddenly charges into town yelling for Mace to back off, Mace shoots him and is in turn shot by Hayes. While Clay lies dying, he asks Hayes to take care of Norma. Days later, after Hayes puts Norma on an Eastbound stage, he goes to the Miller ranch and offers to help Jeannie run the station, suggesting that he will return very soon, possibly for good.
William A. Green
Jack E. Henderson
Jack C. Williams
Philip W. Anderson
Albert Shelby Levino
J. Peverell Marley
Union Captain John Hayes (Randolph Scott) is ordered by his Army superiors to set up a stagecoach delivery route to transport gold from California to Union forces back East. But in the small Colorado town of Julesberg, where he supervises the gold run, Hayes encounters violent resistance from the pro-Confederate locals dominated by the town's ruthless hotel owner Clay Putnam (Andrew Duggan) and his vicious gang of outlaws led by the malevolent Mace (Michael Pate).
Teaming up with a local farmer, a young Union soldier Rod Miller (Michael Dante), and his beautiful wife, Jeanie (Karen Steele), Hayes assembles the horses, coaches and lodgings to operate his Overland stage line. But soon another, smaller war has broken out between North and South, as Hayes' allies and Putnam's thugs battle for dominance. The Putnam gang stops at nothing to intercept the Overland's booty -- including murder. In one shocking scene, a stagecoach which the gang knows carries a mother and her young daughter as passengers, is nevertheless mortally attacked, symbolizing the gang's disregard for human life.
Complicating affairs is the still-smoldering relationship between Hayes and Norma Putnam (Virginia Mayo), now married to the wealthy, corrupt Clay Putnam, but beginning to question her husband's shady business.
But in Oscar "Budd" Boetticher Westerns, it is typically the violent struggles between men, not romantic imbroglios, which compose the central action of the picture. Boetticher creates an atmosphere of stifling tension from the moment Hayes arrives in the town and is publicly humiliated by the horsewhip-brandishing Mace. Even the town's women, standing at the sidelines, laugh at Hayes' shame, in an indication of how bitterly Boetticher views these Southern sympathizers. The film's atmosphere is unrelentingly grim -- even the war-maimed Rod is shown no mercy, ostracized and taunted by the town thugs and served tainted food by a local restaurant owner.
The Western is known for its pairings of actor and director, like John Wayne and John Ford, or James Stewart and Anthony Mann. And Boetticher's films boasted a similar union, of director and star Randolph Scott, who also appeared in Boetticher's Ride Lonesome, the same year.
A prototypical Western hero with his tall, lean, rugged good looks, Scott's presence helped define seven of Boetticher's classic B-Westerns made between 1956 and 1960 and produced by the independent Ranown company.
Though less known than John Wayne or James Stewart today, Scott was a perennially popular Hollywood box-office draw in Boetticher's Westerns and retired from the business one of Hollywood's wealthiest men with multimillion dollar holdings in oil wells, real estate, and securities.
Beloved by connoisseurs of the genre, Boetticher was known primarily as a director of Westerns, though he also branched out into bullfight films (Boetticher once worked as a professional matador in Mexico) and the occasional gangster picture (The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960). Boetticher's tension-driven Westerns of the Fifties are nimble, tight productions, and Westbound is characteristic of the director's best work in the genre which stood at the divide between the classic era of John Ford and Anthony Mann, and the darker cycle ushered in with the more violent, pessimistic Westerns to come from Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah.
Director: Bud Boetticher
Producer: Henry Blanke
Screenplay: Berne Giler, Albert S. Le Vino (story)
Cinematography: J. Peverell Marley
Production Design: Howard Campbell
Music: David Buttolph
Cast: Randolph Scott (Capt. John Hayes), Virginia Mayo (Norma Putnam), Karen Steele (Jeanie Miller), Michael Dante (Rod Miller), Andrew Duggan (Clay Putnam), Michael Pate (Mace), Wally Brown (Stubby).
By Felicia Feaster
Virginia Mayo (1920-2005)
She was born Virginia Clara Jones in St. Louis, Missouri on November 30, 1920, and got her show business start at the age of six by enrolling in her aunt's School of Dramatic Expression. While still in her teens, she joined the nightclub circuit, and after paying her dues for a few years traveling across the country, she eventually caught the eye of movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn. He gave her a small role in her first film, starring future husband, Michael O'Shea, in Jack London (1943). She then received minor billing as a "Goldwyn Girl," in the Danny Kaye farce, Up In Arms (1944). Almost immediately, Goldwyn saw her natural movement, comfort and ease in front of the camera, and in just her fourth film, she landed a plumb lead opposite Bob Hope in The Princess and the Pirate (1944). She proved a hit with moviegoers, and her next two films would be with her most frequent leading man, Danny Kaye: Wonder Man (1945), and The Kid from Brooklyn (1946). Both films were big hits, and the chemistry between Mayo and Kaye - the classy, reserved blonde beauty clashing with the hyperactive clown - was surprisingly successful.
Mayo did make a brief break from light comedy, and gave a good performance as Dana Andrews' unfaithful wife, Marie, in the popular post-war drama, The Best Years of Their Lives (1946); but despite the good reviews, she was back with Kaye in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947), and A Song Is Born (1948).
It wasn't until the following year that Mayo got the chance to sink her teeth into a meaty role. That film, White Heat (1949), and her role, as Cody Jarrett's (James Cagney) sluttish, conniving wife, Verna, is memorable for the sheer ruthlessness of her performance. Remember, it was Verna who shot Cody¿s mother in the back, and yet when Cody confronts her after he escapes from prison to exact revenge for her death, Verna effectively places the blame on Big Ed (Steve Cochran):
Verna: I can't tell you Cody!
Cody: Tell me!
Verna: Ed...he shot her in the back!!!
Critics and fans purred over the newfound versatility, yet strangely, she never found a part as juicy as Verna again. Her next film, with Cagney, The West Point Story (1950), was a pleasant enough musical; but her role as Lady Wellesley in Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N. (1951), co-starring Gregory Peck, was merely decorative; that of a burlesque queen attempting to earn a university degree in the gormless comedy, She¿s Working Her Way Through College (1952); and worst of all, the Biblical bomb, The Silver Chalice (1954) which was, incidentally, Paul Newman's film debut, and is a film he still derides as the worst of his career.
Realizing that her future in movies was slowing down, she turned to the supper club circuit in the 60s with her husband, Michael O'Shea, touring the country in such productions as No, No Nanette, Barefoot in the Park, Hello Dolly, and Butterflies Are Free. Like most performers who had outdistanced their glory days with the film industry, Mayo turned to television for the next two decades, appearing in such shows as Night Gallery, Police Story, Murder She Wrote, and Remington Steele. She even earned a recurring role in the short-lived NBC soap opera, Santa Barbara (1984-85), playing an aging hoofer named "Peaches DeLight." Mayo was married to O'Shea from 1947 until his death in 1973. She is survived by their daughter, Mary Johnston; and three grandsons.
by Michael T. Toole
Virginia Mayo (1920-2005)
The following written prologue appears after the opening credits: "In 1864 the War Between the States was at a stalemate. Gold, the lifeblood of both armies was running dangerously low: gold to buy guns, ammunition and equipment. For the North it meant increasing the flow of bullion from California, across three thousand miles of hazardous country . . . . For the South it meant stopping these gold shipments at all costs. Victory hung in the balance." Westbound was the last of several westerns directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott. Boetticher and Scott's collaboration began with the 1956 film Seven Men from Now.
Released in United States 1959
Released in United States 1959