Down a Familiar Trail
A local business man who's business is cattle is running farmers off their land, the farmers are struggling to grow crops in the heat and there are two women involved with the same man. These are not a few of my favourite things just typical plot devices which can be found in numerous westerns and they can all be found in "Trail Street" a solid but routine western from 1947 which alongside these routine elements also has the routine casting of Randolph Scott as lawman Marshal Bat Masterson. What this means is that "Trail Street" is entertaining but also ends up feeling like numerous other westerns with nothing unique or special to give you a reason to go out of your way to watch it.
The town of Liberal, Kansas is without the law and the local farmers are suffering not just because a drought is making their job hard but also because of the trail riders, who work for cattleman Logan Maury (Steve Brodie) riding through their land, destroying fields in their wake. This in turn causes a huge head ache for Allen Harper (Robert Ryan - The Sky's the Limit) of the land registry as no sooner has he attracted a farmer another one gives up and leaves. But all that is about to change with the arrival of Marshal William Bartley 'Bat' Masterson (Randolph Scott - The Desperadoes) who responds to a message from old friend Billy Burns (George 'Gabby' Hayes) who tells him that Liberal needs him to do to it what he did to Dodge City.
There is no dressing it up as "Trail Street" is nothing more than a collection of western cliches placed together in a slightly different way to what you may have seen before. So in this case we not only have the land war between farmers and cattlemen but we also have corrupt businessmen and farmers looking for a strain of wheat which will thrive in the heat. Add on top of this a romantic subplot surrounding Harper and his social climbing girlfriend Susan and Saloon entertainer Ruby Stone and you have yet more cliche to add to the already cliche mix. And you can go further because the cliche continues with Randolph Scott playing a lawman and George 'Gabby' Hayes as the local character/ deputy.
Now whilst that means that "Trail Street" isn't going to surprise anyone with a great story it does a nice job of weaving this all together to deliver 84 minutes of solid western drama. I say drama because one thing which "Trail Street" doesn't have is a lot of is action yet the big action scene towards the end of the movie is solidly shot and worth the wait.
But that is really it because there is nothing unique or special about "Trail Street" to make you go out of your way to watch it. I suppose if anything it is Robert Ryan as Allen who could give you a reason as whilst Randolph Scott is top billed it is Ryan who delivers the more commanding, heroic performance. And in fairness his storyline which involves both girlfriend Susan played by Madge Meredith and saloon girl Ruby played by Anne Jeffreys ends up the most intriguing thing about the movie.
What this all boils down to is "Trail Street" is a solid if unremarkable western from the 1940s which is little more than a collection of familiar western cliches, characters and actors arranged into another story.