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Well-directed, railroad detective Western from 1948 with Alan Ladd as "Whispering" Smith
on 3 March 2007
Railroad detective Luke "Whispering" Smith (Alan Ladd) rides out of the snow covered mountains into the valley below in search of the train robbing Barton brothers, he is ambushed by two of the brothers, losing his horse he sets out to nearest railroad and hitches a ride on the Nebraska & Pacific train, intending on making an unscheduled stop at Coyote Creek to telegraph the sheriff at Medicine Bend. But the Bartons brothers have beaten them to it and attack the train at the station. In the ensuing gunfight Leroy Barton (Ward Wood) and Gabby Barton (Bob Kortman) are killed, whilst the leader Blake Barton (Murvyn Vye) makes good his escape. Smith then collapses from a bullet wound he received during the shoot-out.
Fellow railroad worker Murray Sinclair (Robert Preston) takes Smith home to his ranch. His wife Marian (Brenda Marshall) having known Smith in earlier times nurses him back to health. As a result of a friendly visit by Bill Dansing (William Demarest) Smith learns that Blake Barton is being holed up in William's Canyon under the protection of no-good gang leader Barney Rebstock (Donald Crisp) and his henchman Whitey Du Sang (Frank Faylen). Smith accosts Rebstock and Whitey in Medicine Bend and has a final shootout with Blake Barton.
Sinclair falls out with newly appointed railroad boss George McCloud (John Eldredge) and throws his lot in with Rebstock, together they organise a series of raids on the railroad. Smith is recalled to Medicine Bend to investigate, he meets Marian on arriving in town then has a face-off in the saloon with Murray and Rebstock. Later following a hold-up at Tower "W" a guard is killed. The gang then high tail it for William's Canyon. Whispering Smith heads a railroad posse to round up the gang and bring them to justice one way or the other.
Directed at a fast pace by Leslie Fenton, based on the story by Frank H. Spearman and scripted by Frank R. Butler and Karl Lamb. Alan Ladd is first-rate in the title role the film has a fine opening sequence leading up to the ambush, parts of which look almost "Shane" like, indeed after "Shane" it's probably Ladd's best Western! The romantic interest is Brenda Marshall (Mrs. William Holden) who plays Marian Sinclair. The film is also the last pairing of Ladd with Preston Foster after having made several films together! Look out for Hank Worden (Mose Harper in "The Searchers") as Murray's ranch-hand.
Filmed sixty years ago at Paramount Studios and on location at Paramount Ranch, Agoura, and Sierra Railroad, Jamestown, California, USA. Beautiful scenery, Top quality color transfer to DVD no spots or scratches to be seen. (Would they were all like this) Highly Recommended.