Raton Pass (1951): Edwin Martin’s Western, starring Dennis Morgan, Patricia Neal and Steve Cochran

Edwin L. Marin directed Raton Pass, a modest black-and-white Western, starring Dennis Morgan, Patricia Neal and Steve Cochran.

The tale centers on a 1880 feud in New Mexico Territory, which pits wealthy rancher Pierre Challon and son Marc against the homesteaders on the other side of Raton Pass.

The large Challon Ranch is split in two by the Raton Pass. The Challons have leased the strip from the homesteaders to allow their head of cattle to graze on the ranch.

Two strangers arrive by stagecoach, the ruthless Van Cleave and the attractive Ann.  Ann seduces and marries Marc, who is unaware that she’s motivated by greed.

While away on business, Ann offers to work out a land irrigation deal with the banker Prentice.  Bothered that she has no control over the daily operation of the ranch, Ann seduces Prentice. When Marc returns, he discovers that Ann and Prentice are romantically involved, and that they are planning to swindle him.

Marc sells the ranch to Ann, confident she and Prentice will be unable to manage the spread and will not earn enough money to cover than their initial $100,000 down payment, which will put the ranch back in his hands while exacting revenge for Ann’s betrayal. Pierre disagrees with his son’s plan and leaves the Territory.

Lena Casamajor, a homesteader’s niece, who has always loved Marc, fears that Ann will ruin the ranch and escalate the issues against the homesteaders, ruining the region. She helps Marc meet with the homesteaders, where he offers to use the downpayment to build irrigation if they agree to help him deny Ann access to the lease Marc personally holds with the homesteaders.

Ann then hires Van Cleave as foreman, leading a band of thugs to battle Marc’s original ranchands and the homesteaders. Lena then sets off to bring Pierre back after Van Cleave incapacitates Marc by shooting him in the back and her uncle as well.

Fed up, Prentice leaves Ann, but Van Cleave kills him and the sheriff. The Challons try to stop him, but Van Cleave accidentally kills Ann.

Cast

Dennis Morgan as Marc Challon
Patricia Neal as Ann Challon
Steve Cochran as Cy Van Cleave
Scott Forbes as Prentice
Dorothy Hart as Lena Casamajor
Basil Ruysdael as Pierre Challon

Credits

Directed by Edwin L. Marin
Produced by Saul Elkins
Screenplay by Thomas W. Blackburn and James D. Webb, based on the novel by Blackburn
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography: Wilfred M. Cline
Edited by Thomas Reilly
Produced and distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date: April 7, 1951
Running time” 84 minutes

Note:

I am grateful to TCM for showing this Western on January 21, 2019.