I’ve mentioned a few times in these pages how much I love Randolph Scott. Truth be told I don’t think he was that great of an actor, but he was one of those guys who figured out the type of character he could play well and he stuck to that. While he acted in many types of films, he mostly stuck to westerns and was almost always the hero.
He was also the sort of actor who seems like he would star in any movie the studios asked him to. He made over 100 films, both good and bad, well made and quickly shot b-films. I’ve been trying to watch as many of his movies as I can, and that means sometimes I get one that is not so good.
In The Cariboo Trail, he stars as Jim Redford who, along with his friend Mike Evans (Billy Williams) heads to Canada along the Cariboo Trail. They are looking for gold. For Jim the gold is a means to an end, it will finance his dreams of becoming a rancher, but for Mike the gold is the goal.
The two almost immediately find trouble. There is a short bridge over a small river. The builders of the bridge try to make them pay an expensive toll to cross, but our heroes are having none of that. They run their cattle over the bridge, wrecking it in the process, and making an enemy out of the man who owns the bridge. He owns a lot of the nearby town too.
Mike gets injured after a cattle stampede which was likely started by the men at the bridge. This makes him angry and bitter and he ultimately teams up with the enemy. Jim travels farther north and finds an untouched patch of land that will be just perfect for a cattle ranch.
He also finds Grizzly (Gabby Haynes in his final role) and an old prospector. The two team together to try to find some gold. There’s also a love interest. Actually, there are two, for every woman who comes in contact with Jim seems to fall immediately in love with him. But he has no interest in women, or anything other than finding gold and getting his ranch.
The film was clearly made on the cheap and most of its ideas don’t feel fully developed. My guess is either the writers didn’t have time to finish the story or the budget didn’t have enough money to film them. Either way the film feels a little disjointed.
Scotts is always enjoyable and Gabby Haynes is a lot of fun. This is mostly skippable unless you are a fan of Randolph Scott and even then I’d probably hold off on it until you’ve seen his classics.