California


1h 37m 1947

Brief Synopsis

"Wicked" Lily Bishop joins a wagon train to California, led by Michael Fabian and Johnnny Trumbo, but news of the Gold Rush scatters the train. When Johnny and Michael finally arrive, Lily is rich from her saloon and storekeeper (former slaver) Pharaoh Coffin is bleeding the miners dry. But worse troubles are ahead: California is inching toward statehood, and certain people want to make it their private empire.

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 21, 1947
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 14 Jan 1947; Monterey, CA premiere: 27 Jan 1947
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,760ft

Synopsis

During the California gold rush, a wagon train guided by ex-Army lieutenant Jonathan Trumbo, a deserter, stops in a small town, where Lily Bishop, a woman traveling alone, is thrown out of the saloon and accused of cheating at poker. Lil asks to join the wagon train, but because Trumbo refuses to take her, kindly old farmer Michael Fabian invites her to ride with him. Throughout the journey, Trumbo is unkind to Lil and she is snubbed by the women. When Lil beats Trumbo at poker one night, he accuses her of cheating. Later he kisses her, but she swears revenge. When news arrives that gold has been found in California, the pioneers abandon their goods and hurry West, and Lil leaves with a rough man named Booth Pennock, determined to make her own fortune. Trumbo tries to apologize to Lil, but Pennock whips him as they ride out. Fabian nurses Trumbo's shoulder and drives him West. Some time later they arrive in Pharaoh City, run by ex-slave trader Pharaoh Coffin, who is determined to make California an independent nation state so that he can rule. In the Golden Lily Saloon, owned by Lil, a farmer named Whitey tells Trumbo that Coffin has been forcing the farmers off their land by charging exorbitant prices for water and protection. Lil rescues Trumbo from a brawl with Pike, Coffin's henchman, but when Trumbo awakens, Lil warns him never to set foot in her saloon again. Later, Trumbo wins Lil's saloon at poker. After he resists Coffin's orders to join his gang, Trumbo is beaten and put on a horse, and following his rescue by two Mexicans, he vows revenge. Meanwhile, Lil moves into Coffin's hacienda. Hoping to convince the state's politicians to resist statehood, Coffin hosts a fiesta, while secretly planning an armed seizure of government property. When Trumbo warns an army captain about the seizure, he is reminded that, as a deserter, he could be court-martialed if Coffin proves to be innocent. Trumbo is given ninety days to find a spokesman for California statehood to appear at the Monterey Convention, where he will be elected as the state's advocate, and the issue of statehood will be decided. Trumbo picks Fabian, and he is elected spokesman. Although Lil warns Fabian that he will be killed if he contravenes Coffin, he gives a speech indicting Coffin for trying to make California an "independent empire." One of Coffin's men tries to shoot Fabian, but a loyal farmer takes the bullet. After Trumbo shoots the assailant, Coffin's supporters abandon him, and Lil sees his treachery for the first time. The next morning, at his hacienda, Coffin asks a padre to marry him and Lil, but she has fled to warn Fabian. She is too late, however, as Fabian is killed in his vineyard by Coffin's gang before Trumbo and his posse arrive. At the hacienda, Trumbo finds Coffin hallucinating that the slaves on his ship have freed themselves and are about to kill him. Lil shoots Coffin and saves Trumbo. Later, they visit Fabian's grave, where Trumbo tells Lil that he will return to the army, and she promises she will wait for him.

Cast

Ray Milland

Jonathan Trumbo

Barbara Stanwyck

Lily Bishop

Barry Fitzgerald

Michael Fabian

George Coulouris

Pharaoh Coffin

Albert Dekker

Mr. Pike

Anthony Quinn

Don Luis Rivera y Hernandez

Frank Faylen

Whitey

Gavin Muir

Booth Pennock

James Burke

Pokey

Eduardo Ciannelli

Padre

Roman Bohnen

Colonel Stuart

Argentina Brunetti

Elvira

Howard Freeman

Senator Creel

Julia Faye

Wagon woman

Crane Whitley

Abe Clinton

Joey Ray

Pennock's partner/Miner

Tommy Tucker

Elwyn Smith

Frances Morris

Elwyn's mother/Stoney-eyed woman

Minerva Urecal

Emma, town matron

Virginia Farmer

Town matron

Dock Mcgill

Coffin's servant

Sam Flint

Higgins

Stanley Andrews

Willoughby

Don Beddoe

Stark

Harry Hayden

Barrett

Ian Wolfe

President Polk

Phil Tead

Eddie, cashier

Jack Baxley

Cowhand

Kathryn Sheldon

Gaunt wagon woman

Ethan Laidlaw

Reb

Gertrude Hoffman

Old woman

George Mcdonald

Boy

Billy Andrews

Boy

Gary Armstrong

Boy

Eddie Ehrhart

Boy

Albert Ray

Boy

Diane Ervin

Wagon woman/Miner's wife

Janet Thomas

Wagon woman

Alan Bridge

Town marshal

Bud Geary

Blacksmith

Dick Wessel

Blacksmith

Tom Fadden

Stranger

Guy Wilkerson

Stranger

Ed Randolph

Stranger

Rex Lease

Stranger

Frank Hagney

Stranger

George Magrill

Stranger

Pepito Perez

Piano player

Wesley Hopper

Faro dealer

Lester Dorr

Mike, the dealer

Al Ferguson

Card player

Robert R. Stephenson

Barber

Phil Dunham

Barber

Philip Van Zandt

Mr. Gunce

Harry Cording

Miner

George Anderson

Miner

Joe Bernard

Miner

Stanley Blystone

Miner

William Hunter

Miner

James Davies

Miner

George Lloyd

Miner

Jack Clifford

Miner

Joe Whitehead

Miner/Onlooker/Steamship clerk/Delegate

Perc Launders

Printer

Leroy Taylor

Barber shop customer

Joe Gilbert

Telegraph operator

Lee Phelps

Bartender

Jimmie Dundee

Gambler

Jesse Graves

Black servant

Kernan Cripps

Shopkeeper

Hal Brown

Newsboy

Clancy Cooper

Cavalry N.C.O.

Frank Ferguson

Cavalry officer

Francis Ford

Jessie

Si Jenks

Settler

Louis Mason

Slim

George Barton

Farmer

Darby Jones

Black slave

Leroy Edwards

Black slave

Will Wright

Chairman

Tony Paton

Delegate

Fredric Santley

Delegate

George Melford

Delegate

Len Hendry

Spectator

Tom Chatterton

Joe, chauffeur

Dave Kashner

Whipman

Martin Garralaga

Mexican sheepherder

Pedro Regas

Mexican sheepherder

Betty Farrington

John Sheehan

Eddy Chandler

Ralph Dunn

Lane Chandler

Russ Clark

Jeff Corey

William Hall

Sheik, A Horse

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 21, 1947
Premiere Information
New York premiere: 14 Jan 1947; Monterey, CA premiere: 27 Jan 1947
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,760ft

Quotes

No court would try you, Captain, because no one would hold that a black was a man. He was an animal which you beat and chained, and all he had to offer up against you was a prayer.
- Johnny Trumbo
Bilge, Mr. Trumbo, bilge. Most men love the chains they wear. They need a master the way they need their mothers. I've heard such talk from pulpits, "the meek shall inherit the earth." No, Mr. Trumbo, the earth belongs to the men who make the law, and the law belongs to the men who can lay it down.
- Pharaoh Coffin

Trivia

Notes

According to Hollywood Reporter pre-production news items, screenwriter Albert Hackett was originally scheduled to direct and write this film, but was later replaced. Hackett remained a screenwriter and never did direct a feature film. In June and July 1945, Alan Ladd and Betty Hutton were scheduled to star in the film. By September 1945, Hutton had declined the role in order to go on her honeymoon. Ladd was suspended by Paramount as of August 22, 1945 for refusing to report for preparatory work on the film after studio heads refused him more money. By early November 1945, Ladd and the studio settled their dispute, but Ray Milland had already been put into the film. Hollywood Reporter also reported that Victor McLaglen was slated for a role as a "heavy" in this film.
       Portions of California were shot in Flagstaff and Cameron, AZ, at the Iverson Ranch near Chatsworth, CA, and in Calabasas, CA. As reported in Hollywood Reporter on March 1, 1946, scenic California locations were shot in early March 1946 for scenes illustrating the lyrics of introductory music for montages in the film. Among the montage locations were: the Monterey coastline, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, highway scenes of California redwood forests, the San Juan Capistrano Mission, orange groves at San Bernardino, wild flowers near Bakersfield, the snow-capped mountains of Mount Whitney, San Jacinto and Mount Baldy, peach and apple orchards at Santa Clara and Santa Rosa, and vegetable fields at Bakersfield and in the Imperial Valley. According to an article in the New York Times on January 13, 1946, Paramount recreated a vineyard at Brent's Crags, CA. According to New York Times, vintage Conestoga wagons were used in the film. According to Par News, at the advice of Dr. John Walton Caughey, UCLA history professor, no white-faced Hereford cattle were used in the film because they were not bred in the United States until after the 1840s. The amethyst tiara and necklace worn by Barbara Stanwyck in the film were heirlooms of director John Farrow.
       According to a March 22, 1946 Hollywood Reporter news item, because 1946 marked the centennial of the United States' seizure of California from Mexico, Farrow arranged an advance showing of this film in Sacramento for California Governor Earl Warren, heads of the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West, and other state leaders. The date of the actual preview was not found, but on January 27, 1947, Daily Variety reported that California historical societies were angered that Paramount had held the film's premiere in New York (on 14 January 1947), particularly because California was preparing to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of gold in Northern California and its adoption into statehood. Paramount reportedly held a special premiere in Monterey, CA two weeks after the New York premiere in response to the protest. Ray Milland and Lizabeth Scott appeared in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of California on January 30, 1950.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter February 21, 1947

Released in United States Winter February 21, 1947