Raton Pass (1951) Poster


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Patricia Neal A Dastardly Darling???
Flaming_star_697 October 2005
I confess I was somewhat shocked at the role Patricia Neal played in this movie. She was the dastardly darling all the way through right up to the end. And to someone who has been a "loving" fan of hers since he was 13 and saw her in The Day the Earth Stood Still--that was a shock.

The plot is very good. She arrives in town to find herself in the midst of a feud between two families. She immediately seeks out a young man from the richest family and seductively (which she is excellent at) works her way into his heart. He marries her and she is given deed to half the ranch. When her husband brings home an even richer man who owns a railroad in hopes of getting him to financially back the ranch, she convinces her husband to leave the job to her. Instead, she seduces him into falling in love with her also and talks him into buying out her husband. He agrees.

Suddenly, they find themselves totally alone as all the hands have quit the ranch. So she sends for a gunman she met by chance at the very beginning of the Western. He brings in his "boys" and they begin to take over the ranch. Finally there is the ultimate showdown between Neal, Morgan (her husband) and the gunman (Cochran).

And as I said: Patricia Neal is the dastardly darling right up to the very last breath. The role would have better suited Barbara Stanwyck or Betty Davis. But Patricia Neal it did not suit even though she did a fine job (as always). While I have seen her in many movies I shall never be able to accept her in any villain role. The Western is very good and well worth any amount of money paid to obtain it but it is just not the kind, sweet, adorable feminine Neal I am used to in movies.
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Thou shall not pass this pass!
Spikeopath3 November 2013
Raton Pass is directed by Edwin L. Marin and written by Thomas W. Blackburn and James R. Webb. It stars Dennis Morgan, Patricia Neal, Steve Cochran, Scott Forbes and Dorothy Hart. Music is by Max Steiner and cinematography by Wilfred M. Cline.

Two families feuding over land either side of Raton Pass, New Mexico. Into their lives comes a beautiful seductress with manipulation and land dominance on her agenda...

Well well, what a treat. Something of a rare, little known or seen Oater, Raton Pass (AKA: Canyon Pass) really takes you by surprise. From the off we can see and hear this is a very nice production, with the twin greats of Steiner and Cline working their magic. Steiner's title music is Latino flavoured and then he introduces deft character motifs for the protagonists, while Cline's crisp black and white photography holds the eyes considerably.

For thirty minutes the picture simmers away like a standard "B" Western threatening to dull the senses with formulaic tedium, this is another reason why Steiner and Cline should be lauded as their work keeps you interested. But then the film completely turns, you notice that Cline's photography has suddenly shifted into film noir territory, and Neal has skillfully shifted from being the new loving wife on the block, to a complete femme fatale bitch! The plot dynamics now have a real edge, and as the smouldering Neal works her feminine whiles, this part of New Mexico territory boils away furiously until it inevitably explodes and spells doom and disappointment for some...

There's some crappy back projection work that undermines the quality elsewhere and the odd character is stereotypical of some Westerns of the period, but this has much to recommend. Marin (Johnny Angel/Nocturne/Colt.45/Sugarfoot) is fluid in his direction, while Neal and noir icon Cochran hold the screen as Max and Wilfred do their stuff. Currently licensed to TCM UK and available in HD format, I would urge any noir and Western fan in the UK to take the chance to see this rare picture the next time it shows. It doesn't deserve to stay rare. 7.5/10
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positive response from memory
smski11 January 2006
The movie is vague in my mind because I saw it 55yrs ago when it debuted here in Raton, New Mexico. I remember it was exciting; this was for a five year old. The greatest excitement came from the city activities to commemorate the occasion. This included parades, dances and parties. My present day next door neighbor, a high school student at the time, danced with Dorothy Hart---a lifetime event for him.

For the benefit of civic historical programs, I am trying to track down a copy of the movie. We are a small town trying to beat the doldrums that affect many small towns in America at this time. We are trying put together a film festival focused around "The Raton Pass" and the associated history of our area---the Santa Fe Trail. We have been through what seems to be all of the normal sources to find this movie. Can anyone help with a source?
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workmanlike, with some great machinations
hildacrane22 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I first saw this western many years ago on TV, and the wonderful villainy of several characters, as well as the sly music for them, stayed with me. Especially that of the Patricia Neal character. She insinuates herself to the accompaniment of a sultry tango-like Max Steiner theme, and seems to relish her every double cross. After decades, I saw the movie again, and that theme still tickles me. One wonders how Neal and Zachary Scott, another Warners player, and fine as a scheming scoundrel, would have worked together.

Aside from Neal, Steve Cochran is a suitably conniving and lecherous counterpart, and quite an eyeful in his leather vest. Dolores Hart is quite good as the good girl. Dennis Morgan is a bit tired in this one. Fairly standard territory-squabble plot

See it for Pat and Max.
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Slave of Ambition
tmwest27 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This film catches you off guard. It starts by showing how a wealthy rancher Marc Challon (Dennis Morgan) falls in love with Ann (Patricia Neal), a woman he just saw arriving on a stagecoach. It also shows that the family of Jim Ponzer hates the Challons because they are very small compared to them and are always getting the worst deal. The exception is Lena Casamajor (Dorothy Hart) who is in love with Marc. Marc proposes to Ann, they get married, and his father Pierre gives them as a wedding gift the joint ownership of the ranch. By that time you think this is a routine western, but then the unexpected occurs. Ann is very ambitious and she convinces Marc to try to get a loan to improve the ranch. He contacts Prentice who is willing to do so and falls in love with Ann. When Marc, coming back from a trip sees Ann in the arms of Prentice, they both propose to Marc to buy his part on the ranch. Marc eventually agrees, but he makes a plan to make Ann go broke. Ann hires a mean gunslinger Van Cleave (Steve Cochran), and then quite a war begins between the two sides. This western is very unusual considering the year it was released, it is much more violent then most of that time and also the change of character of Ann after she gets married is shocking., a good performance of Patricia Neal. In Brazil this film was known as "Escrava Da Cobiça" (Slave of Ambition)
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Dennis Morgan outclassed!
JohnHowardReid18 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Dennis Morgan (Marc Challon), Patricia Neal (Ann), Steve Cochran (Cy Van Cleave), Scott Forbes (Prentice), Dorothy Hart (Lena Casamajor), Basil Ruysdael (Pierre), Louis Jean Heydt (Jim Ponzer), Roland Winters (Sheriff Perigord), James Burke (Hank), Elvira Curci (Tia), Carlos Conde (Germaine), John Crawford (Sam), Rodolpho Hoyos (Ben). Director: EDWIN L. MARIN. Screenwriters: Tom Blackburn, James R. Webb, based on the 1950 novel by Tom Blackburn. Film editor: Thomas Reilly. Cinematographer: Wilfrid M. Cline. Music composed by Max Steiner. Art director: Edward Carrere. Producer: Saul Elkins.

Copyright 1 April 1951 (in notice: 1950) by Warner Brothers Pictures, Inc. New York opening at the Palace: 15 April 1951. U.S. release: 7 April 1951. U.K. release on the lower half of a double bill: November 1951. Australian release: 16 May 1952. 7,540 feet. 84 minutes.

U.K. release title: CANYON PASS.

SYNOPSIS: Odd twist for a western has Neal battling with her husband, Morgan, over ownership of their large ranch. Instigation for the feud comes when Morgan applies for a loan to build a new watering system, but Neal gets other ideas. She plans to take hold of the entire ranch by leaving Morgan, swinging investor Forbes onto her side, and marrying him.

COMMENT: This one could be described as a family saga western. Fine music, photography and art direction help to offset a somewhat indifferent performance by Dennis Morgan, who seems a little out of his element in this dramatic setting. He usually did much more sanguine work in musicals and comedies.

Edwin L. Marin's direction rates as little more than competently routine. Nonetheless, the plot introduces a few interestingly novel twists into the conventional western.

Although it may not find favor with the fans, I really enjoyed this outing.
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Chilling and evil vixen
bkoganbing17 August 2015
Patricia Neal plays a chilling and evil vixen who uses and disposes men like Kleenex trying to get to the top. Among those she charms and disposes of or tries to in Raton Pass are Dennis Morgan, Basil Ruysdael, Steve Cochran, and Scott Forbes. This has fatal consequences for some of them.

Father and son Basil Ruysdael and Dennis Morgan own the biggest spread around and Ruysdael is one proud and ruthless character who's not too squeamish about what he does to maintain supremacy. He's feuding with neighbor Louis Jean Heydt, but Morgan is courting daughter Dorothy Hart and the marriage may make it a happy merger of interest.

That is until Neal arrives in town and she seduces Morgan away from Hart and they marry. So happy and charmed by his daughter-in-law that as a wedding present Ruysdael turns over title to the ranch to Morgan and Neal. That's when Neal really goes to work.

Part of her scheme includes banker Scott Forbes and outlaw Steve Cochran. In Cochran she finally meets a man more evil than her. But she thinks she's up to him.

A little more plot than usual characterizes this western and Raton Pass is definitely not for the Saturday matinée kid's trade. We do get to hear Dennis Morgan sing a song at his wedding which is always nice.

But Neal is truly a malevolent creature and Cochran isn't too far behind her. They make Raton Pass some interesting viewing.
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Surprisingly good Western, though not well known
vincentlynch-moonoi18 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is a darned good Western; much better than I expected. In fact, the only reason I began watching it was that I wondered if it looked like Raton Pass, which I have traveled through several times. Well, for the record, some of the exterior scenes do not look at all like the Raton area, while other exterior scenes do -- although the film was photographed on the opposite side of New Mexico.

Dennis Morgan is the primary star, and despite having a background that more often involved musicals and light comedies, he does very nicely here. His role is that of the son of a rancher who owns a massive spread. The female lead is Patricia Neal, who is excellent as a power hungry woman who ends up as Morgan's wife, but then double crosses him with a railroad tycoon.

Basil Ruysdael is excellent as the father of Morgan. Not exactly ruthless, but he wields his power effectively. Excellent performance; he was a reliable character actor. Steve Cochran plays the less than savory man who comes to the aide of Patricia Neal, while Scott Forbes plays "the other man". There are a number of other lesser character actors who do rather well here.

As for the plot -- pretty good. You have to have a little sympathy for Patricia Neal's character -- she expected to be a partner, not a woman held down looking at magazines. So, she gets bored and takes matters into her own hands.

Although this is not one of the better known Westerns, it's a good one, made at a time when Warner Brothers often did some pretty decent Westerns. Not A+, but still recommended.
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