Another Railroad War Movie
At the Royal Gorge in Colorado engineers for D&RG, led by chief engineer Gil Harkness (J. Carrol Naish) and construction foreman Jim Vesser (Edmond O'Brien), are surveying the land for a new railroad. They are not the only ones as Bob Nelson (Don Haggerty) and his boss, McCabe (Sterling Hayden), are there doing exactly the same thing for Canon City & San Juan Railroad. When things kick off and a man is killed in amongst some thrown punches and gun fire it is the first of battle between the two companies over railroad dominance with Jim wrongly carrying the guilt for the death as it wasn't him who killed the competitor.
Unfortunately despite being a western which benefits from a colour rich film stock "Denver and Rio Grande" is a hard movie to get enthusiastic about. The reason is that beyond Edmond O'Brien playing an unlikely leading man it is an extremely routine 1950s b-movie which has next to nothing in the form of surprises. As such what we get is a set up which sees a good man believe he killed another, of course that leads to complications when he meets a pretty woman who blames him for her brother's murder and aside from that we get two rival companies up to no good by trying to sabotage each other with various unscrupulous characters lying and cheating.
I really do wish I could be more enthusiastic about the "Denver and Rio Grande" as with the rich colouring it does grab your eye but everything about it is routine right down to the characters and the acting. As such you have Edmond O'Brien giving us every day nice guy whilst Lyle Bettger turns on his snaky side and then there is Kasey Rogers who in ever scene seems to be asked to either smile or pout and in fairness she does grab your attention by doing so.
What this all boils down to is that "Denver and Rio Grande" is certainly not a bad movie and I am sure back in 1952 it entertained audiences. But watched now "Denver and Rio Grande is simply a routine western adventure between two competing companies, which also features a man wrongly accused of murder storyline.