Coroner Creek (1948)
A Scott Western With Grit
May your boots never get dusty and your guns never rusty - Andy West
As Randolph Scott westerns go "Coroner Creek" is a bit of surprise. On one hand it has the look and familiarity of a bygone western with pretty women, nasty ranch hands, a sheriff in the pocket of a corrupt businessman and so on. But then there is Randolph Scott as Chris Danning are hero, but not the good guy law keeping hero we may expect because here we have a man hell bent on getting revenge for the death of the woman he was going to marry. And not only does he want blood he is willing to make the man he is after suffer in other ways first. It means that whilst "Coroner Creek" is visually a typical western b-movie it is a more interesting Randolph Scott western.
18 months after the woman he was due to marry was involved in a stage coach robbery, Chris Danning (Randolph Scott - The Desperadoes) learns that she killed herself 3 days after being taken hostage and also learns what the man looked like who was responsible for her death. It is enough to send him on the road looking for the man and it leads him to Coroner Creek where he learns all about Younger Miles (George Macready - Detective Story) a local businessman who fits the description. But whilst confident that Miles is his man Chris bides his time making him suffer in other ways first as he helps a rival rancher stop Miles from squeezing her off her land.
There is a lot about "Coroner Creek" which is typical western, from a variety of beautiful young women including one who has feelings towards Chris through to evil ranch hands. It is all very ordinary and whilst director Ray Enright adds a layer of grittiness to this ordinary it doesn't make it any more memorable. In fact how the story plays out isn't that memorable either because whilst some people die you know that all of this is just filler tile we get the big finale of Chris confronting Younger one on one.
But what makes "Coroner Creek" more interesting is because of the character Randolph Scott plays, Chris is not the law abiding good guy we are use to, he is a man determined to get his revenge. It means that rather than having a laughing and joking Randolph Scott we have one for the most who has a look of steal about him as if nothing is going to get in his way of getting the revenge which has driven him for a year and a half. There still are some typical Scott congenial moments where he confidently smiles but because this is a man ready to kill for revenge makes him harder and more interesting.
What this all boils down to is that "Coroner Creek" is 90% ordinary. It's an ordinary western story with ordinary western styling and a lot of ordinary western characters. But the singular reason why it ends up more interesting is because we have Randolph Scott playing a man hell bent on getting revenge and will not stop until he kills the man who is responsible for the death of the woman he loved.
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