Cast & Crew
In 1860, Easterner Tom Owens works at the Rawhide Pass relay station of the "Jackass Mail," a stagecoach line carrying mail and passengers between San Francisco and Saint Louis. Rawhide, which is halfway between the two destinations, is a desolate place, and Tom looks forward to his imminent departure. One day, Tom and boss Sam Todd welcome the eastbound coach, driven by Gil Scott. As the passengers, including Vinnie Holt and her young ward Callie, eat, Tom and Sam are warned by soldiers that notorious bandit Rafe Zimmerman and three other convicts have escaped from prison. Fearing that Zimmerman and his henchmen are lying in wait further up the line, Sam and Tom force Vinnie and Callie to stay behind when the coach departs. Vinnie is furious, but despite her protests that she will lose her job, Tom insists that she stay until the following day. Taking Tom's pistol, Vinnie then storms off to bathe in a hot springs with Callie. Later that afternoon, Tom is approached by a man claiming to be a deputy from nearby Huntsville. When Tom and Sam lower their guard, however, the man reveals himself to be Zimmerman and calls in his compatriots, Gratz, Yancy and the psychopathic Tevis. Zimmerman informs Sam and Tom that he will let that evening's westbound stage pass through unmolested, but will rob the following day's eastbound coach of its $100,000 cargo. When Tevis finds one of Vinnie's dresses, Zimmerman assumes that she is Tom's wife, and Tom does not reveal the truth. As Vinnie returns, she is captured by Tevis, and Tom warns her to keep quiet about her identity. Vinnie is reluctant to cooperate, but Tom explains that because the bandits need him to take care of the arriving stagecoach, they will not hurt her or Callie. Tom is chagrined to learn that Vinnie lost his pistol behind the water trough when Tevis grabbed her, and their dilemma worsens when Gratz and Tevis shoot Sam as he tries to escape. After being locked in Tom's room, Vinnie confesses to Tom that Callie is her niece, not her daughter, and that she is taking the child to her grandparents. Tevis leers at the beautiful Vinnie as she prepares dinner, but Zimmerman warns him to stay away from her. Before the stage comes, Tom writes notes for himself and Vinnie, alerting the driver to their predicament, but Vinnie is taken behind the station by Tevis, and Tom's note falls to the ground as he harnesses a new team of mules to the stage. While the passengers eat, Tom attempts to purloin a revolver, but Zimmerman catches him and returns it to its owner. The coach leaves without incident, although Zimmerman slugs Tom for his attempted theft, and Tevis tries to attack Vinnie. Tom rescues Vinnie from the lecherous Tevis, and Zimmerman beats him. Realizing that the bandits will kill them after robbing the coach, Tom steals a kitchen knife and begins to dig a hole through his room's brick wall. Tom and Vinnie spend a tense night chipping away at the wall, and in the morning, when Tom feeds the stock, he finds his note in the dirt. Gratz catches Tom retrieving the note and demands to see it, but because he cannot read, he believes Tom's lie that it is a letter from his father. When Tom returns to his room and resumes chipping at the wall, the knife gets flipped outside behind the house. Vinnie succeeds in getting it when she takes Callie to the outhouse, while inside, the animosity between Zimmerman and Tevis grows. An hour before the stage is due to arrive, Vinnie accidentally breaks the knife in half, and despairs because the hole is still too small for her to crawl through. Vinnie then quarrels with Tom, who admits that he has cooperated with the outlaws out of fear for his life. Zimmerman bursts in, and Vinnie, realizing how hard Tom has tried to protect her and Callie, kisses him goodbye. Tom prepares the fresh team of mules, while Vinnie, locked in their room, watches. Callie crawls through the hole in the wall while Vinnie is not looking, and Vinnie's frantic cries upon noticing her absence draw Tevis. Vinnie's screams increase as Tevis paws her, but he then begins to strangle her to quiet her. Zimmerman pulls a gun on Tevis to stop him, and Vinnie is returned to her room. Enraged by Zimmerman's actions, Tevis shoots him in the back, then kills Gratz when he protests Tevis' assumption of leadership. Tom runs to the water trough to retrieve his pistol, and the two men begin a shootout. Meanwhile, Yancy runs away, and Vinnie escapes from her room to search for Callie. Tom and Tevis hear the bugle call announcing the approaching stage, but Tom is forced to surrender when Tevis spots Callie and begins shooting at her. The coach's driver hears the shots and races toward the outpost, while Vinnie finds Gratz's rifle and shoots Tevis in the back just as he is about to kill Tom. The weary Tom and Vinnie then hug Callie and sit on the front porch to greet the stage.
Louis Jean Heydt
Milton Corey Sr.
Judy Ann Dunn
George W. Davis
Samuel G. Engel
A trim, taut, unjustly forgotten western from Twentieth Century-Fox, Rawhide was written as a loose western remake of the 1935 gangster film Show Them No Mercy!, which starred Cesar Romero and Rochelle Hudson. In the update, Tyrone Power and Susan Hayward are held prisoner at a way station by an escaped murderer (Hugh Marlowe) and his three henchmen (Jack Elam, George Tobias, and recent Oscar winner Dean Jagger), who plan to rob a stagecoach the next morning of $100,000 in gold. Power runs the station, and Hayward and her infant niece are simply travelers waiting for a different stagecoach, but the villains assume she and Power are married, and to stay alive, they decide to maintain the ruse. Jack Elam, who replaced the originally cast Everett Sloane, is especially memorable here as a leering, downright evil sociopath.
As written and directed by two A-list veterans -- Dudley Nichols and Henry Hathaway, respectively -- Rawhide garnered strong reviews. The Hollywood Reporter called it "exciting sagebrush entertainment" with a "compelling screenplay that combines the best features of the suspense drama and the orthodox western... Performances are first-rate." Variety praised the "considerable suspense and gripping action" but thought Power wasn't used effectively: "Despite a strongly-told story,...picture isn't the proper vehicle for Power, who is wasted in part and...is never permitted a chance as a hero."
Rawhide was Susan Hayward's first film after having been suspended by Fox for refusing to work on Stella (1950). (Ann Sheridan replaced her in that one.) Hayward's talent was undeniable, but she had a difficult and frosty reputation, and Fox assigned her to this Hathaway film in the hope that the steely, no-nonsense director could whip her into shape. Hathaway had known and worked with Hayward before (though not on an official, credited basis), and his opinion of her was blunt: "She was a bitch," he said (according to Gene Arceri's Hayward biography Brooklyn's Scarlett). "Anybody who is a bitch to work with has got to be a bitch to live with. That's an inherent thing, a part of your make-up, to be an obstruction to everything... It was in her head, her look, her walk, in the way she stood, that girl was twisted."
But on Rawhide, Hathaway said, things were different. She still kept to herself and did not mingle much with the cast or crew, but "there was not a speck of trouble with her on that picture." In fact, Hathaway would go on to direct her in three more films: White Witch Doctor (1953), Garden of Evil (1954) and Woman Obsessed (1959). Meanwhile, the already twice-Oscar-nominated Hayward would rack up three further Best Actress nominations before finally winning the award for I Want to Live! (1958).
Hathaway finished Rawhide ahead of schedule despite some difficulties at the Lone Pine, Calif., location. The story was set in the summer, but production took place in the winter, and it was a cold one, with frigid, windy blasts of single-digit temperatures disrupting the shoot more than once. For a love scene between Power and Hayward, a long shot was filmed on location, but the close-up had to be done weeks later on a Fox soundstage. "People can't kiss when their lips are blue with cold," said Hathaway.
Another time, the cold interfered during a scene in which actors were to ride to a stop, leap from their horses, and start talking. "They jumped off," said Hathaway, "but nothing came from their lips except blue smoke. Not a word. They were so cold they couldn't say a thing." Hathaway had anticipated such delays and rode out several days of a snowstorm by filming stagecoach interiors on a makeshift stage on location, instead of back at the Fox lot as would have been customary.
By 1951, Lone Pine was celebrating its thirty-first year as a Hollywood location. Over More than 200 productions, primarily westerns, had already been shot in the striking landscape at least in part. It would continue to be popular with filmmakers, and director Budd Boetticher really made it his own in the late 1950s with his series of Randolph Scott westerns. Recently, Django Unchained (2012) and Man of Steel (2013) were partially filmed there.
When Rawhide was shown on television in the 1960s, its title was changed to Desperate Siege, to differentiate it from the Clint Eastwood TV show Rawhide. Power's prop gun here is the same .44 Colt he used on Jesse James (1939).
By Jeremy Arnold
Kenneth Tobey (1917-2003)
Born in Oakland, California on March 23, 1917, Tobey originally intended to be a lawyer before a stint with the University of California Little Theater changed his mind. From there, he went straight to New York and spent nearly two years studying acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse, where his classmates included Gregory Peck, Eli Wallach and Tony Randall. Throughout the '40s, Tobey acted on Broadway and in stock before relocating to Hollywood. Once there, Tobey soon found himself playing a tough soldier in films like I Was a Male War Bride and Twelve O' Clock High (both 1949); or a tough police officer in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and Three Secrets (both 1950). Such roles were hardly surprising, given Tobey's craggy features, unsmiling countenance and rough voice.
Needless to say, no-nonsense, authority figures would be Tobey's calling for the remainder of his career; yet given the right role, he had the talent to make it memorable: the smart, likeable Captain Hendrey in The Thing From Another World (1951); the gallant Colonel Jack Evans in the "prehistoric dinosaur attacks an urban center" genre chiller The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953, a must-see film for fans of special effects wizard, Ray Harryhausen; and as Bat Masterson, holding his own against Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957).
Television would also offer Tobey much work: he had his own action series as chopper pilot Chuck Martin in Whirlybirds (1957-59); and had a recurring role as Assistant District Attorney Alvin in Perry Mason (1957-66). He would also be kept busy with guest appearances in countless westerns (Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Virginian) and cop shows (The Rockford Files, Barnaby Jones, Ironside) for the next two decades. Most amusingly, the tail end of Tobey's career saw some self-deprecating cameo spots in such contemporary shockers as The Howling (1981); Strange Invaders (1983) and his role reprisal of Captain Hendry in The Attack of the B-Movie Monsters (2002). Tobey is survived by a daughter, two stepchildren, and two grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Kenneth Tobey (1917-2003)
Tevis has no respect for the dead.- Zimmerman
And he just loves the living?- Vinnie Holt
The working titles of this film were Summit Pass and Jackass Mail. According to a Los Angeles Times news item, Richard Widmark was originally set to star in the picture, presumably as "Rafe Zimmerman." Contemporary sources note that the majority of the picture was filmed on location at Lone Pine, CA. Modern sources report that Mike Steckler acted as Tyrone Power's stand-in and add Si Jenks to the cast, but he was not seen in the viewed print. Donna Reed, Jeffrey Hunter and William Conrad appeared in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story on March 22, 1955.