Virginia City (1940): Michael Curtiz Western, Starring Errol Flynn and Miriam Hopkins

Directed by Michael Curtiz, Virginia City is a black-and white-Western, featuring Errol Flynn and Miriam Hopkins, who get star billing above the title.

Below the title two major actors are mentioned: Randolph Scott and Humphrey Bogart (before he became a star, a year later with “The Maltese Falcon”), sporting a mustache while playing the real-life outlaw John Murrell.

Based on a script by Robert Buckner, the tale concerns a Union officer who escapes from a Confederate prison.  He is then sent to Virginia City from where his former prison commander is planning to send $5 million in gold to Virginia to save the Confederacy.

The film was a follow up to Dodge City, although it has new characters, and historically predates it by eight years.  Originally called Nevada, it was to have the same director and cast as Dodge City: Flynn and Olivia de Havilland (his mot frequent and favorite screen lady). De Havilland dropped out and was replaced by Miriam Hopkins, who lacks the chemistry that the former had with Flynn.

Though the characters are flawed and the plot not particularly interesting, Virginia City, like most of Curtiz’s movies (no matter their genre), moves along smoothly, and by concentrating on the action sequences, it provides lively entertainment.

Mostly shot in Flagstaff, Arizona, the film premiered, as expected, in Virginia City, Nevada.