Saturday, 13 May 2017

Popcorn & Coffee: Zane Grey's Western Union DVD Review

Fox Home Entertainment; Not Rated; 95 minutes; Amazon
When it comes to the western genre, Zane Grey is the biggest name out there. Born Pearl Zane Grey in 1872, he started out as a dentist before writing his first novel Betty Zane (published in 1903). He published over 90 western titles (more if you count all the reprints and re-titled novels). 112 films have been adapted from his novels and works.

Now available on DVD from Twentieth Century Cinema Archives is the 1941 Zane Grey's Western Union. Directed by Fritz Lang, the film stars Robert Young, Randolph Scott, Dean Jagger, Virginia Gilmore, John Carradine, Slim Summerville, Chill Wills, and Barton MacLane. There are no special features or bonus extras on the single-disc.

Based on the 1939 novel of the same name, Zane Grey's Western Union centers on Edward Creighton (played by Dean Jagger), a Western Union engineer who is injured while surveying a telegraph line. This is where he first meets the outlaw Vance Shaw (played by Randolph Scott), who attempts to steel his horse. However, Vance isn't exactly the bad guy that he portrays, so eventually helps Edward.

After recovering from his injuries, Edward returns to Omaha, Nebraska, where he develops a plan to construct a telegraph line from Omaha to Salt Lake City. He enlists the help of his sister Sue (played by Virginia Gilmore), an assistant named Kettle (played by Chill Wills), and a foreman named Pat Gorgan (played by Mintor Watson). Later, a scout is hired - Vance Shaw, who is trying his best to turn his life around.

Work begins on the telegraph line, but it's a lot more harder than what Edward ever expected due to threats from Confederate soldiers and Native Americans.

Final Thoughts: I'm don't know if I have a copy of Western Union in my book collection, but I do own several first-prints (and a few reprints) of Zane Grey's titles. Despite being a fan of the author's novels, I have never seen one of the film adaptations until I watched Zane Grey's Western Union on DVD.

I would like to point out that I have never cared much for early western movies, as most of them are low-budget with bad dialogue and too many "campy" moments. That being said, my expectations for this film were pretty low to begin with.

As for the movie, I was pleasantly surprised that I actually liked it. While the plot isn't exactly thrilling, the script is written-well enough to satisfy any Zane Grey fan. The entire cast is excellent, but the standout for me was Slim Summerville as the cook named Cookie.

The picture aspect ratio is 4:3 (full screen). The picture quality is good for the most part, though there are a few scenes that go in and out of focus; none that are too distracting.

Overall, I enjoyed watching Zane Grey's Western Union. Besides for the picture quality issue, it's almost a perfect film.

*Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my unbiased review. All opinions are my own.

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