Hosted by 50 Westerns from the 50's
Also in the cast is a just on verge of stardom Humphrey Bogart as a hilariously mis-cast Mexican outlaw (with a fading in and out accent) and Miriam Hopkins as a saloon singer/southern sympathizer who warbles several out of key songs and serves as the love interest between Scott and Flynn. Popping up in a couple quick blink and you'll miss 'em scenes are also Paul Fix and Ward Bond.
Like most of the Flynn/Warner historical based films VIRGINIA CITY takes a smidgen of historical fact and then turns them into an entertaining romp through the appropriate historical period. Flynn plays Capt. Kerry Bradford who along with Alan Hale and "Big Boy" are being held in a Confederate prison during the later stages of the American Civil War. The prison is under the command of Capt. Vance Irby (Scott). Irby allows the prisoners to almost complete an escape tunnel before foiling the plot which causes Flynn to swear vengeance upon him. Later after a successful escape Flynn and his two cohorts are sent to Virginia City, NV. to thwart a Confederate plan to smuggle $5,000,000 in gold back to Richmond Va. in order to help the south's war effort.
The Confederate officer in charge of the gold shipment is of course played by Scott with Hopkins playing a spy/dance hall girl in Virginia City who while initially romantically attached to Scott, is soon in the sights of Flynn. Scott enlists the help of Mexican outlaw Bogart (with the rather odd name of "John Murrell") to help get the gold out of Virginia but Morrell has plans of his own. Although clocking in at a lengthy 121 minutes the movie rips and roars through its running time and is a great example of the studio system firing on all cylinders (although I still have a preference for the previous years technicolor DODGE CITY) as Curtiz could direct stuff like this in his sleep and he never lets the story drag.
Flynn while never wholly believable in his western roles (there's always some back story to explain his Irish or Australian presence) brings his usual daredevil bravado while Randolph Scott as the gallant Southern officer is a role that he was born to play and he and Flynn are quite good together (although supposedly they didn't get along). Lastly (but surely not least), you've got Alan Hale and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams trading one-liners.
Along with monster movies when I was a kid, I watched a ton of westerns and it didn't take me long to to make a special effort to catch the Randolph Scott ones. Seeing such films RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, THE TALL T and the subject of this post for the first time at an early age was a major factor that helped turn me into a movie geek. A big thanks to Toby over at 50 Westerns from the 50's for putting this together.