I love It’s a Wonderful Life as much as the next sentimental sucker, but after its 37th late night airing, I secretly contemplate pushing George Bailey off that bridge. Luckily Jimmy Stewart’s soulful bearing and hound-dog eyes translate just as seamlessly into conflicted cowboys as beleaguered depressives. And for Night Passage, he dons his chaps again to play Grant McLaine, a trouble-shooter out to avenge a train heist.
By the film’s release in 1957, Stewart had already headlined five horse operas with director Anthony Mann, but Stewart felt that he had outgrown the creative partnership and the pair parted ways before filming for this one began. With new director James Neilson, the script adopted a more wholesome storyline nonetheless maintaining screenwriter Borden Chase’s staples of gun fights, speeding trains, two-timing women, and Audie Murphey as the Utica Kid, an obligatory scoundrel with a heart of gold.
Night Passage airs appropriately enough on AMC at high noon EST | 11C on Saturday, December 29.Read More