The Cariboo Trail
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Although he played a wide variety of roles over his long career, Randolph Scott was most closely associated with the Western, a genre in which he worked almost exclusively starting in the late 1940s. His status as a cowboy icon was still evident a decade after his retirement from the screen in the early 1960s when the musical group The Statler Brothers made a hit country-western record lamenting the state of the movie industry and asking "Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott?"
In 1950, however, everyone knew exactly where Randolph Scott was- firmly in the saddle for his tenth consecutive Western over the course of two years. The Cariboo Trail (1950) found him driving cattle into Canada (it was actually shot in Colorado), encountering the vicious local boss and trying his hand at gold mining. It wasn't a classic of the genre, but with some beautiful color cinematography by Fred Jackman, Jr. (who shot four of Scott's previous ten Westerns) and exciting action sequences by director Edwin L. Marin (who also worked with Scott on some of those same films such as Colt .45  and Canadian Pacific ), the picture was a hit with Western fans.
The production was the result of what was essentially a stock company under the auspices of producer Nat Holt, who had started his career in 1945 with the RKO musical George White's Scandals but quickly found his forte in the Western. Holt produced five of Scott's late-40s Westerns and a few of them featured cast members from The Cariboo Trail, including Victor Jory, Bill Williams, and grizzled genre icon Gabby Hayes, who was Scott's sidekick in three films. The Cariboo Trail, however, was Hayes's last feature film appearance before moving into television. Marin directed only three more pictures after this - two of them with Scott - before his death in 1951 at the age of 52.
As Scott's nemesis in this film, Victor Jory added to the long list of movie heavies he played in a career spanning more than 50 years. Audiences are likely to remember him best as the scheming Tara overseer Jonas Wilkerson in Gone with the Wind (1939) or as an Indian in any number of film and TV Westerns, including Injun Joe in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938), Cheyenne chief Tall Tree in John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn (1964) and the tribal chief in Papillon (1973). Although he started his career as a potential leading man, the versatile and highly talented Jory never complained about being cast as the villain or in a range of ethnic roles. In fact, he was always quite proud of his ability to do all his own riding in the many Westerns in which he appeared. Those screen roles allowed him to return frequently to critical and popular success in the theater, including several appearances at one of the country's leading regional theaters and centers for new play development, Actors Theater of Louisville, which was run for 30 years by Jory's son Jon. He also played several distinguished roles on film, including the fairy king Oberon in Max Reinhardt's all-star production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935); opposite Marlon Brando and Anna Magnani in The Fugitive Kind (1959), based on a Tennessee Williams play; and as Helen Keller's father in The Miracle Worker (1962).
Director: Edwin L. Marin
Producer: Nat Holt
Screenplay: Frank Gruber, story by John Rhodes Sturdy
Cinematography: Fred Jackman, Jr.
Editing: Philip Martin
Art Direction: Arthur Lonergan
Original Music: Paul Sawtell
Cast: Randolph Scott (Jim Redfern), George "Gabby" Hayes (Oscar "Grizzly" Winters), Bill Williams (Mike Evans), Karin Booth (Frances Harrison), Victor Jory (Frank Walsh).
by Rob Nixon