Fort Worth (1951)
Almost Worth It
Read all about, Randolph Scott plays a journalist, well a journalist who is a former gun man who ends up in his home town where a gang is causing trouble and an old friend could be in cahoots with them in order to buy up land on the cheap. I've watched a fair few Randolph Scott movies and as the star turned his hand to westerns many of them have featured him in a similar role of a good guy in a bad town and that is what you have in "Fort Worth" as Scott plays a journalist who returns home and finds his town is dying. But "Fort Worth" whilst having a lot of cliche going on especially with there being an attractive woman involved also has something which makes it good and that is whether the old friend is a bad guy or a good guy.
Having been a notorious gun man Ned Britt (Randolph Scott - Sugarfoot) returns to his home town of Fort Worth a changed man having seen too much killing during the war and turned his focus to journalism, battling corruption with ink instead of lead. But with Fort Worth slowly dying thanks to Clevenger (Ray Teal)and his gang and the possibility that his old friend Blair Lunsford (David Brian - Ambush at Tomahawk Gap) is in cahoots with them so he can buy up land cheap, Ned is forced to strap on a pair of guns again. And just to complicate matters is Flora Talbot (Phyllis Thaxter - Springfield Rifle) who seems to have eyes for Ned as he has for her but Blair is just as in to her.
It has to be said that "Fort Worth" is a glorious looking western; it has a sharpness and vibrancy which many westerns from the era lack, especially those which were not major movies. And that is part of the reason why it grabs you as everyone looks good but there is more to it than just the quality of the image. There is also the semi-complexity surrounding the character of Blair as we do not know whether he is good, bad, in cahoots with the Clevenger gang or using everyone. When we witness him come to Ned's aid when some of the Clevenger men have him pinned down in the news office you wonder why he would help if he is in cahoots, but then you think is Ned and his paper more valuable to him alive than dead.
In truth it is the mystery surrounding Blair more than anything which keeps "Fort Worth" interesting as beyond that we are in familiar territory, we have a gang causing trouble and of course a love interest. There is a lot of cliche going on in the storyline and in the action with some footage being used from older movies, it doesn't make it any less or more exciting just familiar. And so does this sense of being cliche extend to the characters with Scott once again being the good guy in a bad situation, delivering the same sort of characterisation he used in a lot of his westerns. Plus there is the cliche that Ned has a love interest and again Randolph Scott finds himself opposite a much younger woman, the attractive Phyllis Thaxter who was 20 years his junior. In the end the best performance comes from David Brian as Blair because he has the more complex and intriguing character.
What this all boils down to is that "Fort Worth" is for the most a cliche Randolph Scott western which is buoyed by the fact it is visually vibrant and sharp. But it does feature the interesting character of Blair and it is the mystery surrounding him more than anything which makes "Fort Worth" interesting.
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