Ramrod (1947)

Ramrod (1947)

Joel McCreaVeronica LakeDon DeForeDonald Crisp
André De Toth


Ramrod (1947) is a English movie. André De Toth has directed this movie. Joel McCrea,Veronica Lake,Don DeFore,Donald Crisp are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1947. Ramrod (1947) is considered one of the best Action,Romance,Western movie in India and around the world.

A cattle-vs.-sheepman feud loses Connie Dickason her fiance, but gains her his ranch, which she determines to run alone in opposition to Frank Ivey, "boss" of the valley, whom her father Ben wanted her to marry. She hires recovering alcoholic Dave Nash as foreman and a crew of Ivey's enemies. Ivey fights back with violence and destruction, but Dave is determined to counter him legally... a feeling not shared by his associates. Connie's boast that, as a woman, she doesn't need guns proves justified, but plenty of gunplay results.


Ramrod (1947) Reviews

  • A Grim Western


    Veronica Lake in her memoirs said that Joel McCrea was one of the kindest, most decent men she ever knew or worked with. When she was writing that she was talking about Sullivan's Travels which is certainly one of the high points in both of their careers. Ramrod is light years from Preston Sturges. Based on a Luke Short novel it's a pretty grim and violent film. Preston Foster is the owner of the big spread in the neighborhood and a close ally of his is Charlie Ruggles who has an adjoining piece of territory. Foster's taken a shine to Ruggles daughter Veronica Lake, but she can't stand the sight of him. When Foster bullies her fiancé out of town, Lake wants vengeance. She's got her own piece of land now and hires Joel McCrea to run it for her. The range war starts, but Lake thinks McCrea is too soft in his approach. She starts some backchannel schemes of her own. The result of this is a whole lot of dead bodies piling up. A windfall for the coroner. As always Joel McCrea is the moral centerpiece of the film, he's once again the gallant western hero. Preston Foster is the town bully you love to hate. Foster did a variation on this part again in Law and Order a few years later. Cast against type are Don DeFore and Charlie Ruggles. DeFore who was usually the hero's best friend and a jovial kind of guy, is a violence prone sort of fellow, who Lake manipulates among others. And it is hard to believe that Charlie Ruggles ever played anyone as serious on film before or since. Our image of him is usually the henpecked husband opposite Mary Boland from the Thirties. This film is significant for Lake because she married Director Andre DeToth. DeToth claims to have been married seven times, but only three are listed on his page at IMDb. It was not a happy union, but DeToth did get a good performance out of his bride. Ramrod may be one of the earliest examples of an adult western. It is grim and violent, but fascinating.

  • Underrated


    She may have been tiny, but she could hard-eye stare as well as any man, and make you believe it. It's that quality that this complex Western turns on, and fortunately Veronica Lake delivers in spades. It's not like she's the only good actor in the cast. There's the reliable Joel McCrea as the good guy, the commanding Donald Crisp as the sheriff, and Don De Fore in a sly role as McCrea's buddy, showing both an easy grin and a tricky set of values. Usually it's two patriarchal land barons who feud over territory. Here it's not. It's the tiny Lake and bad guy Preston Foster who are duking it out, both fair and foul. What makes this Western more interesting than most is that Lake and DeFore fit somewhere between the poles of good-guy bad-guy. You never quite know what they'll do next because their moral compass sometimes wobbles. Being a woman with a lot of ambition, Lake has to finagle men into doing her shooting for her, and guess how she does that. And being a man who likes women, DeFore has figure out how to balance his loyalties. That makes for some interesting situations. Director Andre DeToth (check out his unpronounceable real name) is the perfect overseer for a plot that features quiet treachery, hidden motives and raw violence. Maybe that's because his middle-European background was steeped in just trying to survive. Nonetheless, his sardonic view of human nature reminds me of an early version Sam Peckinpah. In fact, the latter hired de Toth to direct several episodes of Peckinpah's brilliant TV series The Westerner (1960). In that same vein, note de Toth's unflinching camera when filming the night battle near movie's end and when filming the treacherous backshot on Foster's front porch. It's clear he's bumping against Production Code strictures on what can be shown and what can't. Ramrod is an underrated Western with an adult story-line. You may, however, need a score card to keep up with the various twists and turns. Still and all, the scenery's great, the acting top-notch, and the action where it ought to be. In my little book, that's definitely a can't-miss package.

  • Striking casting, complex script, brilliant cinematography add up to a special, fascinating Western


    I won't comment on what has been written by several others here, regarding the noir-ish qualities of the material. I do want to mention some things that caught me off guard, in a very good way, from the moment the film began. First off, the writers and director de Toth were confident enough in their material not to spoonfeed their audience. Indeed, the first few minutes are so opaque it seems as if we may have come in in the middle of the film. In reality, we've come in in the middle, not of the film, but of the characters' lives, and the filmmakers allow us to figure out what's going on much as a stranger arriving in town would have to figure out what this drama is that's occurring around him. Adding to the intelligent and innovative approach to the story is the cinematography of Russell Harlan. Harlan, who shot Red River, Lust for Life, The Big Sky, and To Kill a Mockingbird, certainly knew how to place a camera and light a scene. For de Toth, Harlan's camera moves almost constantly, innumerable dolly shots (far more than in a typical film of this day) both reveal and obfuscate the settings in such a way as to keep the viewer always a little off-balance as to where the action is moving next. It's a skillful means of unsettling the viewer. The casting as well performs similarly. Joel McCrea is a familiar figure in Western leading roles, but here he's both a reformed drunk and so soft-spoken and comparatively passive as to be almost the antithesis of what we expect. Veronica Lake gets one soft scene with her hair down and almost peekabooing, but for the rest of the film it's up tight on her head, and she's up tight in the role. She's an interesting case, a pitiable femme fatale, a nice girl at first pushed then willingly galloping down the wrong road. Charlie Ruggles, typically a comic father type, here is stern but not heartless, wrongheaded but goodhearted. And the best piece of off-beat casting in the film is light comedian Don DeFore as the rascally, promiscuous, and deadly Bill, a gunman with a seductive smile and the grim good humor that one both fears and wants to protect. DeFore's performance is the best I've ever seen him give, and it made me wish he'd done more like this. Thankfully (and oddly), the script gives him plenty of screen time, much more in fact (toward the end) than one would expect, given that he's not the lead in the picture. There have been bad good-guys like Bill in scores of Westerns before and since, but few with the charisma and style that Don DeFore brings to this one. All in all, I was amazed by the complexity and shades of gray in this film, which I completely expected to be just another good old shoot-em-up. Well worth watching.

  • Perhaps the first noir-western


    Contrary to previous reviews of Ramrod, de Toth's film is much more interesting than a "simple cattle vs. sheep" plot-driven western. Just look at Lake's Connie Dickinson. This is a typical femme fatale archetype taken straight from film noir (realistically, the character derives from hard-boiled pulp literature which Luke Short fused with his western story). Sexually alluring Connie uses her potent sway over men to achieve her greedy ambitions of wealth and power, and is unafraid to send men to their deaths for her cause. Connie's strength of character is atypical of the western genre at this stage, and her strength seems to come from the relative weakness of the film's hero, played by Joel McCrea; who seems to lack the strong sense of moral certainty that the typical westerner was founded upon. Along with Raoul Walsh's Pursued (1947), and Robert Wise's Blood on the Moon (1948), Ramrod stands as one of the few hybrids between film noir and the western. Regardless of your standpoint on the status of film noir, all of these films contain typical elements from the pessimistic noirs of the 40's and 50's, particularly formal and stylistic devices, as well as recurring personnel, especially directors, stars (ie. Robert Mitchum), and cinematographers. Crucially though, the western genre before this stage was a particularly optimistic one; look at Stagecoach (John Ford, 1939), Dodge City (Michael Curtiz, 1939), or even My Darling Clementine (Ford again, 1946); the three films I mentioned beforehand, including Ramrod, all offer instances of pessimistic worldviews, and morally ambiguous characters and situations, even though they all end with the hero getting the girl and riding into a westward sunset.

  • "From now on, I'm going to make a life of my own"


    I hadn't realised that Lake was so incredibly short. Having only seen her in three films opposite Alan Ladd, whose comparatively small stature made him an ideal screen partner, it was surprising to see the 6' 3" Joel McCrea positively tower above her. This must have caused headaches for the cinematographer who was valiantly trying to frame both stars into every shot. Nevertheless, Lake doesn't let her petite size get in the way of a solid performance, and, indeed, her character is surprisingly malevolent. Borrowing a leaf from the femme fatales of the film noir style, which was in full swing by the late 1940s, Lake's Connie Dickason is a feisty customer, a pugnacious ranch-woman whose determination to upset the balance of power in her small western town turns her as nasty as the male oppressors whom she so despises. She deliberately breaks the law to achieve her self-righteous ends, and attempts to rope men into her scheme through the promise of sex. Yet Connie remains a moderately sympathetic character. If one considers 'Ramrod' as one of the first film noir/westerns, then Connie is the ill-fated hero who knowingly chooses a path of dishonesty, and is condemned by it. McCrea's Dave Nash, on the other hand, represents the Western side of the story, a washed-up cowboy who, against all odds, chooses the path of nobility, pursuing justice strictly through honourable (and legal) channels. This blending of genres yields the film an interesting thematic tone, I think, though the story itself is so familiar that there are few surprises to be had along the way. Upon hearing of her deception, Dave shuns Connie's affections, instead choosing to marry the passive but sincere Rose (Arleen Whelan), the epitome of a dependable house-wife {I'd seen Whelan before, in the William Powell comedy 'The Senator was Indiscreet (1947),' though I don't remember the specifics of her role}. Connie is left, alone and rejected, to ponder the men whose deaths she inadvertently orchestrated. True to the film noir spirit, she is offered no redemption.


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