Great Day in the Morning (1956): Jacques Tourneur’s Technicolor Western, Starring Virginia Mayo, Robert Stack, and Ruth Roman

Jacques Tourneur, better known for his noir and horror films, helmed Great Day in the Morning, a B-level Technicolor Superscope Western, starring Virginia Mayo, Robert Stack, and Ruth Roman.

Great Day in the Morning

The tale is set in 1861, just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War in the Colorado Territory.

Robert Stack plays Owen Pentecost, a North Carolina man who comes west to Denver on a whim. Along the way, he encounters Ann Merry Alaine (Virginia Mayo), who is heading there to open a dress shop.

In a Denver hotel saloon, Owen wins a poker game with the owner, Jumbo Means (Raymond Burr), who bet his estate on the last hand. Along with the hotel comes Boston Grant (Ruth Roman), who works there.

Predictably, both women fall for Owen. The more interesting subplot is the relationship between Owen and a young boy, unaware that it was Owen who had killed his father, who adopts Owen as his surrogate dad and role model.

The gold of the town’s Confederates is his motivation, but the predominantly Union town wants the gold, and with the looming Civil War, the town is split. Owen then leads the Southerners in an escape attempt with the gold.

Robert Stack as Owen
Virginia Mayo as Ann Merry
Ruth Roman as Boston
Raymond Burr as Jumbo
Alex Nicol as Capt. Kirby
Regis Toomey as Father Murphy
Leo Gordon as Zeff Masterson
Carlton Young as Col. Gibson
Donald MacDonald as Gary John Lawford
Peter Whitney as Phil the Cannibal


Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Produced by Edmund Grainger
Screenplay by Lesser Samuels, based on Great Day in the Morning 1950 novel by Robert Hardy Andrews
Music by Leith Stevens
Cinematography William E. Snyder
Edited by Harry Marker

Production company: Edmund Grainger Productions, Inc.

Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures

Release date: May 16, 1956

Running time: 92 minutes