Dodge City (1939)

  • adore the credits for this movie. Beautiful color illustrations, beautiful type, and beautiful “THIS IS A GRAND MOVIE, DAMN IT” music by our friend Max Steiner. Fantastic stuff.
  • Another Curtiz/Flynn pairing, a la CAPTAIN BLOOD (1935), THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938), THE SEA HAWK (1940), VIRGINIA CITY (1940), and like…20 others, it seems.
  • Opening train shot. Hallelujah!
  • We’re 5 minutes into the movie, and I’m already immensely enjoying the Errol Flynn/Alan Hale/Guinn Williams trio. It’s just like in VIRGINIA CITY…except this one came first!
  • (At one time, I read a message thread on IMDb that speculated on whether or not Guinn Williams is related the Bush family (yes, as in the presidential one). Turns out he’s not, but now all I can think when I see Guinn Williams is, “Wow, he looks like George W.!” Because really, y’all – he does.)
  • Way to go, Dodge City. Way to get founded and then immediately go to shit. Didn’t Errol teach you anything before he left?
  • Wow – John Litel (Matt Cole is his character’s name) is gone super quickly. Guess they had to clear the way for Henry Travers to step in as his usual, magical, grandpappy self.
  • Woo! Olivia (de Havilland)! She’s here & looking like an adorable little wagoner in her plaid & her orange bandana.
  • Errol: Here, may I take that [water bucket]? It looks heavy.

Olivia: No thanks, I can manage it.

Errol: Well, I’m sure you can manage a bigger one than that in each hand, if you wanted to…but why should you?

(And then he takes the water bucket from her. Feminist chivalry, y’all – nothing better than that!)

  • Oh my God – Olivia’s brother (Lee, played by William Lundigan) is a goddamn idiot. Can’t wait for him to get trampled by some cattle – I hate him already.

(In case you’re wondering: all he seems to do is drunkenly shoot at metal cups he tosses into the air, while screaming “Yahoo!” It seems he’s almost started multiple cattle stampedes with this sort of behavior, but he doesn’t seem to give a shit. Like I said…he’s a goddamn idiot.)

  • Oh, FYI: Errol and his buddies Rusty (Hale) and Tex (George Bush…I mean, Williams) helped to get the town of Dodge City started, back when the railroad first arrived there – but left soon after for Texas because Errol is (predictably) a restless adventurer & he was ready for something new. Now, the boys are driving cattle & a wagon train up the Chisholm Trail, on their way back to Dodge City, where I suspect they’ll tangle with the disreputable bandits who just killed John Litel (Matt Cole).

(I don’t know about y’all – but I’m pumped.)

  • This. Dolt. Of a kid.

Errol’s like, ‘Bro, you keep causing trouble. You gotta stop that.’ And the brother’s like, ‘I do what I want!!! I’m not on your staff! If you touch my wagon, I’ll shoot you because I’m stupid!’

Son…you should know better than to challenge Errol Flynn on anything – he’ll kick your dumb little ass in 2 seconds flat. Go back to your wagon, sit on your hands, and keep your goddamn mouth shut.

  • Well, that was fast. Lee the Fool started shooting at Errol, (finally) caused a full-on stampede, & got trampled to death. Olivia’s kind of sad, but the rest of us aren’t. (Sorry William Lundigan – nothing against you – just your dumbass character. Thank goodness he made his ultimate exit so quickly!)
  • Jeff Surrett (Bruce Cabot): You always did hear a little too much.

Errol: It’s possible you boys are always a little too noisy.

  • Oh, so Henry Travers is Olivia (& Deceased Lee)’s uncle. Cool!
  • Surrett & his gang are some shadily terrifying individuals – that’s for certain.
  • Haha! Rusty has given up drinking & saloons…so he stumbles into (and begins participating in) an all-women “Pure Prairie League” meeting. It’s fantastic. They give him a giant yellow & green ribbon to wear that’s shaped like a sunflower & has their group’s name printed in the center.

(Spin-off idea: He Wore a Yellow Ribbon…?)

  • Meanwhile, next door – Tex has started an all-saloon brawl. The fight literally crashes the PPL meeting, and Rusty begins brawling with his cowboy brethren (all the while wearing his sunflower ribbon).
  • Unfortunately, he (Rusty) gets knocked out behind the bar, and when he awakens, Surrett & roughly 20 of his men are the only ones left in the saloon. They decide it’d be a good idea to hang him (not joking – this is what they decide), and come very close to going through with it – except our hero Errol arrives at the last minute & saves the day. Woohoo! Thaaaanks, Errol.
  • Did Kevin Kline ever play Errol Flynn in anything? I know Peter O’T played a character based on him in MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982)…but did Kline ever have the opportunity? Because he looks a hell of lot like him in this movie. (Edit: Yes – apparently Kline played Errol in the film THE LAST OF ROBIN HOOD (2013). This is an encouraging development.)
  • The Townspeople are so impressed by Errol’s heroics that they ask him to stay and clean up their town. Errol’s like, ‘Ehhh…pass.’

Olivia (who’s still pissed at Errol for the role he played in the death of Brother Dumbass) is like, ‘This motherfucker is an ambivalent prick with no concern for public safety or sense of civic pride.’

Everyone – including Errol – is like ‘Dag, yo,’ and they decide to let him leave.

  • Oh, hey – did y’all know Errol’s name in this is Wade Hatton? (Sorry – Errol’s always just Errol to me – I forget his characters have names of their own.)
  • Tragedy has struck. Horse-watching Child (Bobs Watson) has just been killed after being drug behind a pair of horses spooked by a Surrett-induced shootout. This makes Errol reconsider his rejection of the Sheriff’s office, because him & Horse-watching Child were buds.
  • (Cue Errol-cleaning-up-the-town montage.)
  • Surrett’s a jackass. He smirks too much.
  • So…*sigh.* Abby (Olivia) got a job at the newspaper, which is awesome. Except Errol comes along and tells her she shouldn’t be working there because it’s “undignified and unladylike.”

“You ought to be at home, doing needlework.”

Oh, ERROL. What is wrong with you?!

(The good news is – he tripped and fell on his way out of the office & people laughed at him. Heh.)

  • Sweet. Errol just tossed someone through a door.
  • I love how Olivia gets kissed by Errol & doesn’t go all goofy. She just goes back to work & is as serious as nails about everything that’s happening in Newspaper Land. (I understand that “serious as nails” is not a thing – but it seems appropriate, so that’s what I’m using. Deal with it.)
  • Wuh oh. Abby & Joe (Frank McHugh) are writing an exposé on all of Surrett’s shady business dealings. Errol just arrived to walk Abby home, leaving Joe alone in the office with his newly completed newspaper article. All signs point to Joe biting it real soon. Shame. I like Joe.

…Sad face. Yep. That’s what happened. Got ‘im.

  • What’s up, Ward Bond?! Super small part…but still, he’s there!
  • Ha! So…Errol decides Abby needs to get out of town while Yancey (Victor Jory) & Surrett are awaiting trial, because she has a hell of a lot of dirt on both of them & therefore is in big danger. Of course, Abby doesn’t want to leave & protests, & Errol’s like ‘Jesus Christ, woman – you’re going to end up murdered!’

Errol: You are the most stubborn little female I’ve ever met in my life, entirely. Can’t you understand that I’m doing this because I love you?

(It’s a great scene. Trust me.)

  • Somehow, they (Errol, Rusty, Tex, Yancey, Surrett, AND Abby) have all ended up on the same train, and now they are gunfighting & firefighting concurrently, because someone shot a candle, or something.
  • “Colonel Dodge – when do we start for Virginia City?” — Abby’s closing line.

Remind me what Errol’s next Western was called…? (I’m winking right now, but you can’t see it.)

  • This was a fun movie – but also kinda shockingly dark in parts, what with multiple beloved characters getting killed so succinctly over the course of the film.
  • Really, when it comes down to it, there wasn’t much going on, plot-wise…but it held my interest well enough. I’d watch it again.



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