Kansas Pacific (1953)
Non Specific Pacific
Unrest is simmering between the North and the South as the North are behind the construction of a railroad which the South object to and do their best to prevent from happening through Bill Quantrill (Reed Hadley) and his band of no good cowboys hitting the construction when ever they can. It leads to Capt. John Nelson (Sterling Hayden) being sent as an undercover agent masquerading as a construction engineer to try and prevent any more disruptions to the railroad development. It leads to him meeting Barbara Bruce (Eve Miller) the daughter of Cal (Barton MacLane) who having been in charge of the railroad construction has his nose put out of joint by the arrival of Nelson.
I will tell you the most interesting thing about "Kansas Pacific" right away and that is that it is set before the American Civil war with the trouble simmering but not boiled over yet. In typical fashion we learn about this when Barbara, her father and his lifelong friend are talking about the troubles which are boiling up and one mentions he doesn't think there will be a war. Sadly they don't make more of this original period and instead all we get is a standard western storyline involving an undercover soldier arriving in town to stop the sabotage of a railroad which I suppose is more original than the more typical army rifles being stolen.
So what does that mean, well first up you can assume that the hero will come good by the end following a battle with the bad guy and the hero will probably get the girl. Along the way to that most likely of endings we have Quantrill's heavies becoming suspicious of Nelson leading to a series of fights as Nelson uncovers who is behind all the trouble which interestingly has Quantrill as a respectable business man. And just for an added bonus you get the confusion as Cal Bruce and daughter Barbara believe that Nelson is an engineer there to replace Cal which leads to some typical ill feelings but also romance. As I said "Kansas Pacific" despite an original setting only ends up working through a familiar set up.
That sense of familiar continues when it comes to the performances with the likes of Sterling Hayden, Eve Miller and Barton MacLane all turning in solid but average performances of average characters. It's not that the characters are bad but they are so routine and generic that they blend into the pool of other western characters.
What this all boils down to is that "Kansas Pacific" is just a typical 1950s western which reworks a familiar storyline and so ends up blurring in to the mass of other westerns out there with nothing to make it memorable but equally nothing to make it terrible.
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