Southwest Passage


1h 15m 1954
Southwest Passage

Brief Synopsis

The U.S. Cavalry is ordered to test the feasibility of camels in the deserts of the Southwest.

Film Details

Also Known As
Camel Corps, Camels West
Genre
Western
Release Date
Apr 1, 1954
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Eclipse Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Kanab, Utah, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Path├ęcolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Synopsis

Having robbed a bank of twenty-thousand dollars in gold, Clint McDonald, his sweetheart Lilly and her brother Jeb, are being pursued by a sheriff and a small posse, and hide out in a mountainous area. As Jeb has a serious gunshot wound, Lilly goes to a nearby town to seek medical help. There she sees Edward Fitzpatrick Beale making final preparations to lead a caravan of camels across the desert in an effort to create a shorter route to California and prove that camels are practical for use in U.S. deserts. The town's doctor is absent, but Lilly encounters Dr. Elias P. Stanton, a drunken veterinarian, who has volunteered, by mail, to join Beale, but has not yet met him. Lilly takes Stanton to Jeb and, after the doctor removes the bullet, Clint arranges to buy his medical kit and wardrobe and impersonate him in order to join Beale's caravan and escape from the area. Jeb has to rest, so he and Lilly plan to join Clint in a day or two. Dressed in Stanton's clothes, Clint rides into Beale's camp and is met by Tall Tale, Beale's scout, Matt Carrol, a mule skinner whose mules are being tested against the camels, and Lt. Owens, who is leading a small Cavalry detachment assigned to the caravan. Also in the group are four Arabs, led by Hi Jolly, who are in charge of the camels. Beale accepts Clint as the doctor he was expecting and the caravan heads out. Meanwhile, the posse is on the trail of Lilly and Jeb, but Jeb can run no more, and collapses and dies. When the caravan is attacked by four gunmen looking for food and horses, Carrol is shot in the arm, and when Clint treats his wound, Carrol suspects that Clint is a better gunman than a doctor. Later, when Clint catches Carrol abusing Hi Jolly, a fight ensues which Beale has to break up. Lilly rides up to join the caravan, telling Beale that she has become separated from a wagon train she was traveling with. Further tension develops when Clint finds Carrol spying on Lilly taking a bath in a stream. The men have another fight with fists and whips, which, again, Beale has to stop. The caravan moves on, but Apache Indians appear atop nearby rocks and follow the travelers to the next campsite. When Lilly unsuccessfully asks Clint to send the gold back to the bank so that they can begin a new life free of guilt, Carrol overhears her and realizes Clint's true identity. He then demands half of the gold, which Clint agrees to give him when they reach California. After Tall Tale discovers an Apache in the camp, the Indian tells Beale that his people regard the camels as gods. Beale seizes upon this and sends the Indian back to tell the others that the camels will kill the Apaches if they harm his men. However, when the caravan moves on, a camel collapses with a broken leg and has to be shot and buried. The caravan reaches the edge of a hundred mile stretch of waterless desert, and as the mules are collapsing and the caravan is short of water, Tall Tale digs for moist sand, but is bitten by a gila monster. Clint treats the wound but, later, Beale tells him that Tall Tale's arm will have to be amputated. After Clint tells Lilly that he intends to kill Tall Tale rather than have it be discovered that he is not really a doctor, Lilly reveals Clint's true identity to Beale. Beale fights Clint and orders him to leave, providing him with some food and water and directions to a settlement eighty miles southwest. Carrol, unwilling to lose the gold in Clint's saddlebags, follows him and, at a well, draws his gun to shoot him, but Clint outwits him and kills him. Meanwhile, Lilly apologizes to Beale for deceiving him. Bringing two canteens full of water with him, Clint rejoins the caravan with news of the water hole, thirty miles to the south. Beale allows Clint to stay and the caravan heads toward the water, but before they get there, they are attacked by the Apaches, who have discovered the dead camel. However, in a potentially suicidal maneuver, Clint, on a camel, leads the Indians into a trap, enabling Beale and the others to defeat them. Clint is injured during the battle, but Lilly patches him up. Later, a reformed Clint asks Beale to return the gold to the bank and agrees to start a new life with Lilly when the caravan reaches California.

Film Details

Also Known As
Camel Corps, Camels West
Genre
Western
Release Date
Apr 1, 1954
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Eclipse Films, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Location
Kanab, Utah, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Path├ęcolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.75 : 1

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film's working titles were Camels West and Camel Corps. It was produced in 3-D, but openings in Los Angeles and New York were shown in standard format. As noted in the film's pressbook, in 1856, at the request of the U.S. government, a Syrian camel driver, Hadji Ali, (nicknamed Hi Jolly) arrived in the U.S. with a group of camels to test their suitability for use in U.S. desert areas. The following year, Hi Jolly served as cameleer on a caravan led by Edward Fitzpatrick Beale across the American Southwest. Hadji Ali later tried, unsuccessfully, to establish mail and freight routes utilizing camels. Beale reportedly took twenty-five camels to California, and the animals were subsequently sent to Nevada and Arizona, where the herd died out.
       According to the pressbook, a small monument to Hi Jolly was discovered during filming on Highway 60 in Quartz-site. Location shooting took place in and around Kanab, UT. The pressbook also indicates that Navajo Indians from Utah played Apaches in the film. John Ireland and Joanne Dru were husband and wife when this film was made. The Hi Jolly character was also featured in the 1976 release Hawmps.