RED MOUNTAIN. Paramount, 1951. Alan Ladd, Lizabeth Scott, Arthur Kennedy, John Ireland, Jay Silverheels, Francis McDonald. Director: William Dieterle.


   There’s no doubt in the world that Alan Ladd is the star of this movie. As soon as he first sets foot on screen, you get the feeling that the eyes of everyone in the theater are on him — or they would be if you were in a theater and not watching the film alone with a DVD and the TV set in your bedroom.

   This is so, even with a co-star such as the beautifully sad-eyed Lizabeth Scott as Chris, the woman in the movie who’s torn between Lane Waldron (Arthur Kennedy), wanted for a murder he didn’t commit, and Captain Brett Sherwood (Alan Ladd), an officer of the Confederate Army about to join up with General William Quantrill (John Ireland), the man responsible for wiping out Chris’s parents back in Kansas.


   So Brett Sherwood has a big job ahead of him, but as quiet-spoken as he is, and as conflicted as he is between what he sees as his duty (fighting for South) and what he recognizes as evil (Quantrill’s plans for taking over the entire western United States, with the aid of renegade Native American tribes), he’s up to the task.

   Even Lane Waldron sees that attraction between Brett and the woman he was going to marry is futile, even over Chris’s protestations to the contrary.

   The scenery is wonderful — a mountain standing almost vertically against an achingly blue sky — and in color, even more spectacular. (It’s a shame that the only images I can show you are in black and white.)


   The story neither quite as wonderful or spectacular, even with a fast and furious final battle scene, with a rousing musical overture in the background as the Cavalry as usual comes riding in to the rescue. (Lane and Chris have been held prisoner, he with a broken leg, by Quantrill in a cave in what must be Red Mountain.)

   But it’s the Quantrill end of the story that’s the less interesting. Watching (and listening to) Alan Ladd, as he allows Brett Sherwood grow as a character several ways at once, unable to deny his attraction to Chris while becoming more and more disenchanted with Quantrill, is worth the price of admission, as if — as I said earlier in the first paragraph these comments — there were any doubt.

   The presence of Lizabeth Scott, a queen of noir films, if ever there was one, is only icing on the cake.