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California (1947)

Passed | | Romance, Western | 21 February 1947 (USA)
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Epic account of how California became a state, featuring a wagon train, the Gold Rush, a wicked saloon queen, and an evil profiteer.

Director:

John Farrow

Writers:

Frank Butler (screenplay), Theodore Strauss (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ray Milland ... Jonathan Trumbo
Barbara Stanwyck ... Lily Bishop
Barry Fitzgerald ... Michael Fabian
George Coulouris ... Capt. Pharaoh Coffin
Albert Dekker ... Mr. Pike
Anthony Quinn ... Don Luís Rivera y Hernandez
Frank Faylen ... Whitey
Gavin Muir ... Booth Pennock
James Burke ... Pokey
Eduardo Ciannelli ... Padre
Roman Bohnen ... Col. Stuart
Argentina Brunetti ... Elvira
Howard Freeman ... Sen. Creel
Julia Faye ... Wagon Woman
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Storyline

"Wicked" Lily Bishop joins a wagon train to California, led by Michael Fabian and Johnnny Trumbo, but news of the Gold Rush scatters the train. When Johnny and Michael finally arrive, Lily is rich from her saloon and storekeeper (former slaver) Pharaoh Coffin is bleeding the miners dry. But worse troubles are ahead: California is inching toward statehood, and certain people want to make it their private empire. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

No town would have her! No man could tame her! See more »

Genres:

Romance | Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 February 1947 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kalifornia See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was in production November 1945-February 1946, and bears a 1946 copyright statement, but was not released until January 1947. See more »

Goofs

A number of the pistols used by characters appear to be cartridge revolvers, rather than cap-and-ball. See more »

Quotes

Pokey: I thought this was God's country.
Mr. Pike: Not no more it ain't!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Shadows of Suspense (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

CALIFORNIA OR BUST
Music by Earl Robinson
Lyrics E.Y. Harburg
Sung by chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Political Mixes With The Personal
3 April 2009 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

If back in 1946 when California the movie was made, let alone in the 1840s when California came to the USA via the Mexican Cession, people knew what a sprawling entity California would become, the idea of a separate California country that George Coulouris wanted to have might have been the idea might have been sold. As it is now California has about 9% of the House of Representatives and a population and budget bigger than most countries.

But we're back in the year of 1849 when trail guide Ray Milland is guiding a wagon train to the Pacific, to the newly acquired lands of the Mexican War. He's reluctantly allowed Barbara Stanwyck to travel with Barry Fitzgerald on the train. Stanwyck's been given a heave-ho out of town similar to what Claire Trevor got in Stagecoach. The two of them are mighty attracted to each other, but Milland thinks she's cheap and Stanwyck thinks he's stuck up.

It tears it for Milland when Stanwyck upon reaching California takes up with George Coulouris, a powerful, rich, and mysterious former sea captain who gained his fortune in the slave trade. He's a mean one to cross and his ambitions include nothing less than carving out a separate California Empire with himself as head.

So the political mixes with the personal as Milland fights Coulouris for California and Stanwyck.

California was a big budget item for Paramount that year, the only thing it lacked was Cecil B. DeMille directing it. The film was shot on location in Sedona, Arizona in gorgeous technicolor, courtesy of Ray Rennahan. You have to remember that Milland had won the Best Actor Oscar for The Lost Weekend the previous year and Paramount was now trying to take advantage of that.

Stanwyck loved making westerns and it sure shows here. This was Ray Milland's first starring western, he'd do a few more and not bad ones either. Fitzgerald steals the show of course in every scene he's in as the wise grape grower who sees vineyards in the Napa Valley as part of California's future.

The whole thing is nicely directed by John Farrow. And of course Coulouris will creep you out with his brand of villainy. Catch it when it's broadcast.


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