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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two REAL American Heroes and stunning scenery in this enjoyable A-Western
NIGHT PASSAGE (1957) this should have been another classic collaboration for James Stewart and Anthony Mann, following their acclaimed work on five westerns from WINCHESTER 73 (1950) to THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955). But they sadly fell out at the pre-production stage. Mann who was scheduled to direct wasn't too happy with the Bordan Chase script, of a story by Norman A...
Published on 24 Feb 2007 by Robert J. Evered

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny Man.
As many Western fans know, Night Passage was all set up to be the sixth genre collaboration between director Anthony Mann and actor James Stewart. After a run of successful and genre defining "adult" Westerns, the prospect of another was mouth watering to the genre faithful. The promise of something good was further boosted by the names of others involved in the project...
Published on 2 Mar 2011 by Spike Owen


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two REAL American Heroes and stunning scenery in this enjoyable A-Western, 24 Feb 2007
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This review is from: Night Passage [DVD] (DVD)
NIGHT PASSAGE (1957) this should have been another classic collaboration for James Stewart and Anthony Mann, following their acclaimed work on five westerns from WINCHESTER 73 (1950) to THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955). But they sadly fell out at the pre-production stage. Mann who was scheduled to direct wasn't too happy with the Bordan Chase script, of a story by Norman A Fox. But Stewart was desperate to do it for several reasons not least that it gave him the opportunity to do a lot of accordion playing, an instrument that he had learnt to play as a youngster.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of it Stewart pressed on with the film despite every ones advice perhaps not least because he had a stubborn streak running through him like many of his western personas. The new first-time director was James Neilson and many of the cast included those seen in the aforementioned five westerns like Dan Duryea Jay C Flippen, Jack Elam, Robert J. Wilke and others. Also drafted in were Brandon de Wilde (SHANE), Olive Carey (THE SEARCHERS) and last but not least the boyish-looking 32 year-old Audie Murphy who played Stewart's younger brother known as the Utica Kid

The story is basically of an itinerant-musician and erstwhile railroad detective Grant McLaine (Stewart) who had been wrongly accused of an earlier robbery was given one final chance to redeem himself by rail boss Ben Kinball (Flippen) to get the long-overdue payroll up to the railhead, in between is a manic Whitey Harbin (Duryea) and his gang, plus the on-the-fringe Utica Kid (Murphy) trying to stop him.

Much of the film was shot at around 9000 feet The film was shot in the rarefied atmosphere about 90 minutes drive away from Durango Colorado at times 8000 to 9000 feet above sea level, this made for exhausting work for all involved. William H Daniels was the cinematographer and Clifford Stine was responsible for the Special camera work, I assume that this included the stunning photography following the train along the river and up into the mountains?

This DVD is in the original Technirama widescreen aspect and it certainly gives the film at times an almost 3D quality to it. Also included here is the original theatre trailer -- At the time of writing this film is nearly fifty years old and has survived the test of time probably better than many of its critics of the day gave it on its release. -- No. This isn't a Classic Mann Stewart Western, but is still well worth watching if for the splendid photography and to compare those two "REAL" WW2 American hero's Stewart and Murphy close up. Dan Duryea was probably the common denominators between the two stars named ahead of the title, as he had worked with both separately on several occasions.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unsung western, 24 Sep 2008
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night Passage [DVD] (DVD)
A western well deserving of a review. The director is no Anthony Mann who collaborated with good effect with James Stewart in a series of fine westerns.In fact Mann who originally started the directorial duties fell out with Stewart his star and was replaced by James Neilson better known for Disney features. Neilson is no Anthony Mann and Audie Murphy is not the greatest actor who ever lived, although he was beginning to improve his staccato delivery in this film. So why do I like this unheralded film so much. I had to wait a long time before it came out on DVD but it was worth the wait. It has genuine feelgood factor, and has a lovely fresh undated look about it.

James Stewart plays the good brother and Murphy the Utica Kid, his young brother gone bad. Stewart used the good brother bad brother theme with Dean Martin in the 1968 film Bandolero with poorer results. Stewart as always knows how to play the good guy struggling in adversity. No one did sincerity better! Stewart working reluctantly for the railroad manages to infiltrate the train robbers that his brother is uneasily working with. Will he be able to convince his brother of the error of his ways? We head to a guns blazing finale.

The film contains many good scenes. My own favourite being the scene where Stewart plays his accordion and sings on the back of a train. It is almost worth buying the DVD just for this one scene. Interestingly Stewart wanted to showcase his talents with the accordion in the film, but clearly Mann who had him dubbed by a professional was less than impressed. There is also a memorable scene where Stewart is thrown off the train by a heavy which is also great fun. Dan Duryea gives a top performance without really trying as the likeable but psychopathic "Whitey". The wonderful Colorado scenery has never looked better in vibrant colour. All these things bring a rich tapestry to this movie. The film has a slam bang good wins out over evil ending. I have watched many westerns and have a fair collection. No this is not a classic in the vein of The Wild Bunch or Rio Bravo but it is an entertaining likeable edition to my collection. Oh,and underrated
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surviving The "Passage" Of Time, 18 Dec 2003
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Peter D. Kent "Pete Kent" (Near Hastings, England) - See all my reviews
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NIGHT PASSAGE is one of the first westerns I recall seeing as a child, it is NOT available in the UK on video and has not been aired on television for several hundred years! Now at last it can be seen again in all its "widescreen" glory! James Stewart and Audie Murphy at their most bearable; a wonderful "baddie" performance by Dan Duryea (not to mention other familiar cowboy heavies as Robert J. Wilke and Jack Elam, who recently passed away); gorgeous locations and splendid photography; taut, economical film-making at its very best, and all with a Tiomkin score , eternal fire and endless rhapsody - and this, in its day, was a second rate picture! Worth another look, believe me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Funny Man., 2 Mar 2011
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Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Night Passage [DVD] (DVD)
As many Western fans know, Night Passage was all set up to be the sixth genre collaboration between director Anthony Mann and actor James Stewart. After a run of successful and genre defining "adult" Westerns, the prospect of another was mouth watering to the genre faithful. The promise of something good was further boosted by the names of others involved in the project. The screenplay is written by Borden Chase (Red River/Winchester '73), cinematographer was William H. Daniels (The Far Country), the score is from Dimitri Tiomkin (High Noon/Giant) and joining Stewart in the cast are Audie Murphy, Dan Duryea, Jay C. Flippen, Jack Elam & the wee lad from Shane, Brandon De Wilde. That's some serious Western credentials. But sadly Mann was to bail at the last minute, the reason(s) given vary depending on what source you believe.

It's thought that Mann was unimpressed with Chase's screenplay, feeling it lacked a cutting edge (as reportedly so did Stewart). The casting of Murphy was also said to be a bone of contention to the talented director, while it has simply been put down to him having other commitments (he had both The Tin Star & Men in War out in 1957). Either way, Mann was out and the film was never going to be better for that situation (sadly Mann & Stewart fell out over it and never worked together again). In came TV director James Neilson and the film was wrapped and released with mixed commercial results. Yet the film still remains today rather divisive amongst the Western faithful, due in the main one feels, to that Mann spectre of potentially a better film hanging over it.

Night Passage is a good enough genre offering, but the plot is slight and the story lacks the dark intensity that Mann, one thinks, would have given it. The story follows an overly familiar tale about two brothers (Stewart/Murphy), one bad, one good. A story from which Chase's screenplay holds no surprises, it is in truth pretty underwhelming writing. With the actual core relationship of the brothers lacking any emotional depth. However, there's more than enough visually here to offset the standard plotting and make this a very enjoyable experience. Shot in Technicolor's short-lived "Technirama" process, the widescreen palette pings once the cameras leave the back lot and goes off into the mountains of Colorado.

Trains are the order of the day here, as Chase adapts from a story by Norman A. Fox, it's the train that becomes the central character, deliberate or not. As the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway snakes its way thru the gorgeous terrain, it's that image one takes away, not anything that the thinly scripted characters have done. Still, in spite of its literary flaws, Neilson shows himself to be competent with the action set pieces, of which there are quite a few. While Stewart is as reliable as ever, even getting to play an accordion (a hobby of his since childhood) and sing a couple of chirpy tunes. Of the rest, Dianne Foster leaves a good impression as the Utica Kid's (Murphy) girlfriend and Murphy himself does solid work with his cheeky grin, slick hair and black jacketed attire that shows Utica to be something of a suspicious character.

Good but not great in writing and thematics, but essential for Western fans with big TV's. 6.5/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another classic, 10 July 2011
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This review is from: Night Passage [DVD] (DVD)
one of my top westerns in my collection, james stewart and audie murphy, good story line, and the great character actor dan durea.super.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Half a Mann is Better than No Mann, 25 Mar 2013
This review is from: Night Passage [DVD] (DVD)
A film of three thirds! The first bit convincingly Mann-esque with the usual Man-from-nowhere riding into town but then goes a little baggy in the middle portion and ends unconvincingly. Nevertheless beautifully filmed mountains and trains. Dan Duryea overacts but sounds weirdly like Brando at times with his high-pitched wailing. Impressive Tiomkin score. All adds up to slightly messy but rather beautiful blue-sky and way-out-west feature. Shall we start a James Neilson-director cult?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 18 July 2014
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This review is from: Night Passage [DVD] (DVD)
Very good James Stewart movie and the DVD picture quality is excellent.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Night Passage not bad, 4 Jun 2013
This review is from: Night Passage [DVD] (DVD)
Apparently no less a director than Anthony Mann left this project after the star, James Stewart, insisted on including accordion playing as part of his main character or perhaps of views he held about the script. The helm was instead taken eventually by James Neilson, most of whose career was spent in television. The film itself, together perhaps with Two Rode Together (1961), is seen as something of disappointment when seen alongside other great Stewart westerns of the 50's.

Stewart plays a disgraced railroad man, reduced to playing music for nickels and dimes to help ends meet, until he is called back into action by his old boss to help solve some robberies. Chief among the suspects are his younger brother, The Utica Kid (Audie Murphy) now embroiled with an outlaw gang led by the unbalanced Whitey (Dan Duryea). Despite the variable reputation of this film I thoroughly enjoyed it, not least because of the plotting by Borden Chase and the excellent and large supporting case which also included Jack Elam, Paul Fix, Dianne Foster and Jay C Flippen. There's a part too for a now slightly older Brandon de Wilde, most famous for his role as the hero-worshiping youngster in Shane. After watching Audie Murphy just previously in the disappointing, much lower budgeted late vehicle Apache Rifles (1964), suddenly with this film the range seemed aright again. Murphy does an excellent turn as the conflicted younger brother, holding his screen presence well against the as always excellent Stewart, who, by this time, works his central role effortlessly. In fact Murphy's characteristic, taciturn, screen persona actually does the other main co-star Duryea a disservice, by emphasising some scenery-chewing elsewhere by the actor no doubt intent on showing Whitey's instability.

Stewart gets to play his beloved accordion three or four times - although it must be admitted that, by the time it gets burnt in the climactic confrontation, one grows little tired of hearing his repertoire of, mostly, 'You Won't Get Far Without the Railroad'. Most obviously, the longish opening Mclintock-esque scene, one suspects, was inserted principally to showcase Stewart's playing, although his charm always carries such musical longeurs along. Away from the star's turn, the otherwise excellent composer Dimitri Tiomkin is hard put to incorporate the music meaningfully into the rest of the score. With the cheerful and interruptive accordian one looks in vain too for the wheezing ominousness which marks out, say, Harmonica's instrumental playing in Once Upon a Time in the West (1969). Stewart's accordion does, however, play a final a part later in filling out an element of Murphy's moral character in what, one must admit, is a very effective, subtle scene. But overall it's a minor, idiosyncratic, element in a film which is still excellent viewing, a production taking full advantage of a big budget and good sized cast, and one thoroughly recommended. An obvious question remains: why is it called 'Night Passage' when there is hardly any day-for-night work, and no significant travel made in the dark?

The DVD is an excellent widescreen version albeit with few extras.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Awfull, 18 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Night Passage [DVD] (DVD)
James stewart keeps bursting into song. Enough said. I am not a great fan of westerns where the lead actor thinks he can sing. John wayne in the early films comes to mind.
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1 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not even Audie, the scenery and the hot bimbo can save this., 4 Jun 2011
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This review is from: Night Passage [DVD] (DVD)
James Stewart delivers probably the worst performance ever captured on film. This man could not act his way out of a paper bag.

film also ruined by the over acting Dam what's his mame and the awful Irish dancing etc at the beginning not to mention the uglier than hell woman trapper.

I keep the film just for audie and the blond babe.
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Night Passage [DVD]
Night Passage [DVD] by James Neilson (DVD - 2007)
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