Ann-Margret in Stagecoach (1966)

On the Dallas Stage Again

Drink loving Doc Josiah Boone (Bing Crosby) and saloon girl Dallas (Ann-Margret) find themselves kicked out of town and on a stage coach with fellow passengers including a corrupt banker, a gambler, Mrs. Lucy Mallory (Stefanie Powers) and a liquor salesman. Along the way they also end up picking up the Ringo Kid (Alex Cord), a young gunfighter looking for revenge over the murder of his brother. All these travellers have secrets and issues but any animosity they might have towards each other will have to be put aside when they find themselves in danger as they travel through Indian Territory.

I've always said that remakes are not for those who think the original movie is great but for those who wouldn't be seen dead watching an old movie. And whilst for some remakes are an annoying part of the genetic makeup of the movie industry I kind of agree that they have a place because with out interesting an audience with a remake they might never discover a superior original.

Alex Cord in Stagecoach (1966)

That brings me to the 1966 version of "Stagecoach" and as someone who can appreciate John Ford's 1939 version as a cinematic masterpiece I can only say that this remake is weak in comparison. But as I said remakes are not for fans of the original movies and so taken as a movie made for fans of westerns in the mid 60s this version of "Stagecoach" is solid if unremarkable, the same can also be said of the 1986 version.

Now there are a few changes in this 1966 version of "Stagecoach", we have moved location for one thing and for some reason it opens with an entirely pointless action scene of soldiers being attacked by Indians. I say pointless but in a way it does serve a purpose, which is to establish that this version will be action based rather than character driven. And there is more action through out the movie although there is nothing out of the ordinary about any of it, just the typical action you would find in most mid 60s westerns.

What also is apparent is that this 1966 version of "Stagecoach" also relies on the actors and what the audience expect from them. As such we have Bing Crosby as the booze loving doc adding plenty of humour to the role as does Red Buttons as the comically jittery liquor salesman. There is nothing wrong with that as it makes this version of "Stagecoach" enjoyable for those who prefer movies with a cast they are familiar with but it often steers it towards being more of a comedy especially with the likes of Slim Pickens in the mix as well.

What this all boils down to is that this version of "Stagecoach" is not the travesty many would have you believe. Yes it is inferior to the great John Ford western but as a 60s western it is solid if also forgettable.