El Paso (1949) John Payne, Gail Russell, Sterling Hayden, George 'Gabby' Hayes, Dick Foran Movie Review

El Paso (1949)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Gail Russell and John Payne in El Paso (1949)

Vigilante Law

Former confederate officer Clay Fletcher (John Payne) heads to El Paso as his grandfather, Judge Fletcher (H.B. Warner), requires a signature from Judge Jeffers (Henry Hull) and as he was sweet on Jeffers' daughter Susan (Gail Russell) hopes to see her again. But Clay, who now practices as a lawyer, quickly sees that Judge Jeffers is not only a drunk but is the town's laughing stock who does little more than what Sheriff La Farge (Dick Foran) and local business owner Bert Donner (Sterling Hayden) order him to do. After Donner humiliates Clay he sets about cleaning up the town the legal way except he finds out that doing things legally isn't going to get the results he wants and so with others decides to bring vigilante law to El Paso.

"El Paso" is a pretty standard western with that familiar storyline of a businessman who makes the law up as he goes to grab the land of those around the town he has built his empire in. It is so typical that good old George 'Gabby' Hayes shows up in one of those wily, whiskery roles he was famous for. Throw in some romance as we have Clay falling in love with the woman he was once sweet on that the rest of the movie is predictable. Well with the one exception that after Clay realises that trying to uphold the law legally is futile he ends up a leader of a group of vigilantes willing to fight with him rather than him going it alone.

Beyond the whole vigilante side of the storyline the only other thing "El Paso" has is a cast which several familiar faces such as Sterling Hayden and John Payne but they end up playing routine western characters who are pretty forgettable. In fact the chances are it will be some weak editing and fake horse riding scenes which you are likely to remember the movie for than for anything which the movie gets right.

What this all boils down to is that "El Paso" is just a middle of the road western which reworks a familiar storyline with a few variations but never managing to do anything to make it really stand out from the crowd.