The Walking Hills (1949)

Directed by John Sturges. Starring Randolph Scott, Ella Raines, Arthur Kennedy and Edgar Buchanan as Old Willy!

Sturges assembles a great group of actors for this contemporary noir western taking place in then current times of 1949. The presence of Randolph Scott and Edgar Buchanan keep it firmly rooted in the genre but the whole approach is more adult and sinister than the B-movie programmers the stars were known for.

The movie opens on a group of people playing cards in the back room of a border town. Each character has a shady past that they are trying to run away from. When they discover the local folklore of buried treasure in the sand dunes may be true they decide to sneak into the Mexican desert at night and begin to dig. Eventually secrets, emotion and a sand storm threaten to tear everything apart.

Terrific looking black and white photography give this western a wonderful noir inspired look. Made before HANGMAN'S KNOT this truly seems like the first step Randolph Scott would take toward making a more mature western film, eventually coming to fruition in the movies he did with Budd Boetticher. At 78 minutes this is every bit as good, IMO.

Guitarist, singer, songwriter Josh White is on hand as part of the group of treasure hunters. White sings and plays guitar while they dig, when they eat and when they're just standing around at night. It's the perfect kind of blues that you need when you are in the middle of a desert digging for gold.


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