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Having just played the unforgettable femme fatale in what is often considered one of the best of the film noir genre, Out of the Past (1947), it was fitting Jane Greer should be cast in Station West (1948) which has many of the hallmarks of a tough noir in cowboy garb. Even the cast list reads like something you'd expect to see on the seedy contemporary streets of LA rather than the town of Sedona, Arizona, where it was filmed: Dick Powell, Agnes Moorehead, Raymond Burr, and the ever-reliable Regis Toomey, so often cast as a cop, here playing a Wells Fargo detective.
Greer is back on the wrong side of the law in Station West; she plays a ruthless gambling house owner who is the key to an investigation by military intelligence officer Powell into the murder of two soldiers who were guarding a gold shipment. In his only western role (until hosting and occasionally acting in the 1950s TV series Zane Grey Theater), Powell barely strays from the tough, cynical noir persona he had recently established in such films as Murder, My Sweet (1944) and Johnny O'Clock (1947), after a career in 1930s musicals. He and Greer make a sharp pair of adversaries in this adaptation of a novel by Luke Short, who later wrote for Powell's TV show.
The screenplay, with its razor-sharp dialogue, earned a Writer's Guild of America nomination (Best Written American Western) for Frank Fenton and Winston Miller. In addition to their long writing careers, both men also acted on screen. Miller was a juvenile star in silents but gave it up when sound came in to concentrate on scriptwriting, most notably penning the John Ford classic My Darling Clementine (1946). He later became a television producer responsible for the Raymond Burr detective series Ironside and several episodes of Little House on the Prairie. Fenton, however, kept up a long and successful acting career in addition to his script work. Although mostly a supporting player in B pictures, he worked steadily on screen from 1942 until his death in 1957. He also did uncredited work on the screenplay for Greer's earlier (and most famous) picture Out of the Past.
Greer, who started out singing with big bands, gets to do a number in this one, "Sometime, Remind Me To Tell You" with music by Leigh Harline and lyrics by Mort Greene. The multi-nominated Harline won an Academy Award for his music to the Disney classic "When You Wish Upon a Star" from Pinocchio (1940). Greene and Harline also wrote another song for Station West, performed by Burl Ives as a singing hotel clerk early on in his film career, when he was still primarily a radio folk singer and years before his memorable performance as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and his Supporting Actor Oscar® for The Big Country (1958).
The role of the shady western crime boss, originally intended for Marlene Dietrich, was another boost to Greer's rising career. Later this same year she was named one of the most promising actresses of the future by The Saturday Evening Post, putting her in such company as Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner, and Shelley Winters.
Director: Sidney Lanfield
Producer: Dore Schary, Robert Sparks
Screenplay: Frank Fenton, Winston Miller, from a novel by Luke Short
Cinematography: Harry J. Wild
Editing: Frederic Knudtson
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Feild Gray
Original Music: Mort Greene & Leigh Harline (songs), Heinz Roemheld
Cast: Dick Powell (Haven), Jane Greer (Charlie), Agnes Moorehead (Mrs. Caslon), Raymond Burr (Mark Bristow), Tom Powers (Capt. George Isles).
BW-80m. Closed captioning.
by Rob Nixon