Western Union (1941) Robert Young, Randolph Scott, Dean Jagger, Virginia Gilmore, John Carradine Movie Review

Western Union (1941)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Randolph Scott in Western Union (1941)

A Deadly Union

Having found life looking over his shoulder no longer entertaining, former outlaw Vance Shaw (Randolph Scott) finds himself hired by Edward Creighton (Dean Jagger) to help protect the Western Union line as it is being built across country. Shaw and Creighton have history as Creighton owes his life to Shaw. But things also become complicated when Richard Blake (Robert Young) shows up to work as he and Vance find themselves rivals for pretty Sue Creighton (Virginia Gilmore), Edward's sister. That is not Vance's only problem because as it turns out it is his own brother, Jack Slade (Barton McLane) and his outlaws who are trying to prevent the line from going through.

It hits you immediately, why when it comes to "Western Union" is Randolph Scott second billed, surely Scott must be the star of this Fritz Lang western. Many who have watched "Western Union" will also agree with me when I say that Scott is really the star of the movie delivering the more engaging of the characters especially when you compare his character with that of Robert Young's. But of course that is part of the movie's point because on one hand you have Vance who has a mean streak despite being generally a nice guy and then you have the annoyingly confident Blake whose confidence and cheesy charm border on arrogance.

Now you may ask why that is the movie's point and to reveal would actually mean revealing one of the movie's shocks, yes this is a western which when you think of who is in it does have a shock. An because of that shock you find yourself asking why did they give Robert Young top billing when Scott would have been better in his role. But what you also get in "Western Union" is director Fritz Lang's skill using colouring to create a vibrant looking western yet one which ends up rich in detail thanks also to his skill in using shadow.

What this all boils down to is that in truth "Western Union" is a pretty standard movie but through Fritz Lang's use of colour and some surprise casting it ends up a lot more engaging than you might of expected. In fact for what is pretty much a routine oater this one is memorable.