Rawhide (1951 film)
Rawhide is a 1951 Western film made by Twentieth Century-Fox. It was directed by Henry Hathaway and produced by Samuel G. Engel from a screenplay by Dudley Nichols. The music score was by Sol Kaplan and the song "A Rollin' Stone" by Lionel Newman. The cinematography was by Milton R. Krasner.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Henry Hathaway|
|Produced by||Samuel G. Engel|
|Written by||Dudley Nichols|
|Narrated by||Gary Merrill|
|Music by||Sol Kaplan|
|Cinematography||Milton R. Krasner|
|Edited by||Robert L. Simpson|
20th Century Fox
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$1,950,000 (US rentals)|
Tom Owens (Tyrone Power) is the clean-cut and sophisticated gentlemen son of the Eastern Division Manager of the Overland Mail Company, J. C. Owens. His father decides he needs to learn the business from the ground up so sends Tom out west to a remote relay station, Rawhide Pass, to take lessons from the stationmaster, Sam Todd (Edgar Buchanan), whom he has known for over forty years. Owens has received his "pardon" from his father, however, and is scheduled to return to civilization in one week. He can't wait.
A strong-willed woman named Vinnie Holt (Susan Hayward) and her very young niece Callie arrive on a coach on their way east. Miss Holt's sister was killed in a bar brawl along with Callie's father, Johnny, back in Vacaville, California, and she is taking Callie to her paternal grandparents in the east. As her stage gets ready to depart Rawhide after their dinner break and mule change, the Cavalry arrives from the east with the news that four convicts escaped from Huntsville prison, held up a stagecoach that earlier had passed through Rawhide, and killed the driver, who was Sam's friend. The Cavalry has learned that the convicts are after a gold shipment expected to pass through Rawhide the following day. The Cavalry intends to escort Holt's coach on its way east. However, per Company policy, children may not ride a coach into a dangerous situation, and when Holt refuses the driver's command to leave Callie at the station, she is forcibly removed from the coach by Owens, but she then insists on taking Owens' room to sleep in for the night.
Holt takes Callie along with Owens' gun to the nearby hot springs for a bath. While they are gone, a man approaches the outpost on horseback. Todd and Owens are leery knowing it could be one of the escaped convicts, so Owens approaches while Todd hides in the stable tack room with his rifle. The man flashes a deputy sheriff's badge from Huntsville, saying that he is hunting the escaped convicts, so Owens gives Todd the all clear. However, they soon learn that the man is Rafe Zimmerman (Hugh Marlowe), the convict who escaped from Huntsville, the day before his scheduled hanging for the murder of his girlfriend and her lover. Zimmerman then signals the other three convicts to ride in. They are hard-core outlaw Tevis (Jack Elam), simpleton Yancy (Dean Jagger) and obedient Gratz (George Tobias), all of whom were coincidentally around Zimmerman when he made his prison break.
Holt and Callie return from bathing in time to hide and see Todd get shot in the back by Tevis, after Todd makes a break for the rifle he left in the stable. They are discovered when Callie cries, but Owens' gun is left under the horse trough. The convicts all assume Holt is Owens' wife, as their items are in the same bedroom. Tevis wants to have his way with Holt, but Zimmerman knows they need an official from the Company there when the last coach passes through that night, so that the driver will assure the Cavalry to the east that all is well. Zimmerman concludes that the best way to keep Owens in line is to leave his wife and baby alone.
After the last coach passes, Owens manages to grab a kitchen knife, and he and Holt use it to chip away frantically throughout the night at the clay brick wall in the bedroom where they are being held captive. Before they can make the hole big enough to escape through, the knife breaks. Dawn comes, and Owens is summoned to get the station ready for the stagecoach. While Holt is distracted, Callie crawls out the small hole. Fearing for Callie's safety, Holt screams to be let out of the room. When Tevis opens the door he forces himself on her. Owens hears this and tries to come to her aid, but gets knocked out by Zimmerman in the melee. Zimmerman then thinks he has gotten control of Tevis, but makes the mistake of turning his back on Tevis to return to Owens, and Tevis shoots him in the back. Gratz then attempts to kill Tevis but is also gunned down by Tevis, while Yancy runs off to hide.
Owens regains consciousness, gets shot running across the yard, but manages to get hold of the gun under the horse trough. He is engaged in a gun battle with Tevis as the next stage approaches. Just then, Callie wanders back into the yard. Tevis threatens to kill Callie if Owens doesn't throw down his gun and come out in the open to be killed. Owens complies, but as he walks to his sure death, Holt is able to recover Gratz's rifle and saves Owens by killing Tevis. The gold-filled stagecoach then rides in with Yancy aboard. When asked what has been going on there, Owens replies to the stage driver, "Learning the business, Jim. Just learning the business."
- 'The Top Box Office Hits of 1951', Variety, January 2, 1952
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century-Fox: A Corporate and Financial History Rowman & Littlefield, 2002 p 224