As you have no doubt ascertained by now, this weeks blogs are devoted to the limited (just nine pictures in all) output from that feisty mid-Forties independent production outfit, Enterprise Studios, founded in large part by actor John Garfield.
He starred in two of Enterprise’ best known titles (1947’s Body and Soul and 1948’s Force of Evil). But Enterprise astonished the established major studios by its ability to lure big stars at the time to anchor a variety of pictures.
One of those big stars is the man discussed below.
In fact, Enterprise Studios managed to film two rather interesting westerns in the late 1940s — both starring Joel McCrea.
Although he ended his career as the star of Westerns (like his pal Randolph Scott) McCrea was a leading man for decades during Hollywood’s Golden Age.
He starred opposite the screen’s most popular leading ladies and he appeared in several films which have been deemed classics.
McCrea had notably starred in the 1941 perennial, Sullivan’s Travels, paired with Veronica Lake (see below).
It was supposedly not an ideal match. Lake and McCrea were said to have clashed on the set of the picture so intensely that he vowed never to make another film opposite her. (Lake, on the other hand, has written that McCrea was one of the kindest, most decent men she ever worked with. Go figure!)
In any event, along came Ramrod from Enterprise Studios.
This 1947 outing directed by Andre DeToth puts Lake in an unfamiliar setting — in at western. Her costar is none other than McCrea, and her husband at the time was actually the movie’s director.
Based on a Luke Short novel, Ramrod is about a nasty rancher (Preston Poster) with a yen for the daughter (Lake) of his next door neighbor (Charles Ruggles). Lake eventually acquires her own ranch and hires an upstanding McCrea to run it. She finds she is not immune to the back channel schemes precipitating the violent action.
In 1948’s Four Faces West, McCrea is perhaps less upstanding but certainly less violent. His character is the product of hard times who robs a bank without firing a single shot. At the picture’s end, his character voluntarily surrenders to the local sheriff who returns the favor by vouching for the robber’s essential good character. What a western.
Four Faces West is distinguished by its sterling cast. McCrea is cast opposite his wife of 57 years, Frances Dee. Also on hand are Charles Bickford and one of our favorites, Joseph Calleia.