Bells of Coronado (1950) [DVD, Import - English audio, removable subtitles]

Bells of Coronado (1950) [DVD, Import - English audio, removable subtitles]

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Roy Rogers and Trigger had been performing together for twelve years by the time they came to make this late Republic Pictures effort, and Bells of Coronado has the rare added attraction of capturing the duo in colour, albeit the garish Trucolor process adopted by Republic because it was cheap.

As with most of Rogers’ later westerns, the adventure is contemporary, having to do with foreign (we are left to presume they are Russian) spies and the theft of some valuable uranium ore, but to catch them Rogers must (conveniently) adopt the guise of an old-fashioned cowboy, as an undercover insurance agent tasked with foiling their plans. Rogers stars alongside his third wife, Dale Evans.

Bells of Coronado downplays Rogers’ musical cowboy act and instead prefers to concentrate on the spy plot, which is probably to the benefit of the film. Clifton Young is good value as the spies’ chief henchman, having made his mark in several ‘A’ pictures, opposite Humphrey Bogart in Dark Passage (1947), in Raoul Walsh’s Pursued (1947), Possessed (1947) and Blood on the Moon (1948). Sadly, following a painful divorce, he died in a hotel room in 1951 of smoke asphyxiation after falling asleep while smoking in bed.

Unarguably formulaic, deliciously ridiculous and dated, with a plot rich in Cold War paranoia, Bells of Coronado is a fine romp full of ersatz cowboys, though not really a western at all. To be enjoyed for what it is.

Spanish Region 2 PAL (fully UK-compatible) DVD, ArtHouse Media 2011

Please note: Subtitles have been tested and confirmed removable using disc menus.

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