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Night Passage Reviews

An Anthony Mann western without Anthony Mann. Mann was originally slated to direct this all-star oater, but he walked after voicing strong opinions regarding the quality of the script. Stewart, who was advised to follow Mann to the exit (they had collaborated earlier and come up with one of their best films, WINCHESTER 73), opted to stay and stick it out (reportedly to show off his musical talent--his character plays the accordion). The resulting film is a fair-to-average western that no one would remember for long. The typical story line sees Stewart as the good brother and Murphy as the evil one. They cross paths when Stewart is hired to safeguard the railroad delivery of a $10,000 payroll. Murphy and his gang hold up the train and make off with the loot, leaving Stewart to hunt down his brother and retrieve the money. Despite his best efforts to convince his sibling to abandon his crooked ways, Stewart is unable to entice Murphy to leave before the inevitable showdown with the gang. When it looks as if Stewart is doomed, Murphy has a predictable change of heart and unites with his brother against his former comrades. Murphy is killed, as is the scene-stealing Duryea, leader of the gang, and Stewart makes sure the payroll is delivered. Routine direction by Neilson fails to create any sparks from the hackneyed material.