Rocky Mountain is a 1950 western film directed by William Keighley and starring Errol Flynn. The film is set near the end of the American Civil War.
A car pulls up to an historical marker in the desert that reads:
ROCKY MOUNTAIN, also known as Ghost Mountain. On March 26, 1865, a detachment of Confederate cavalry crossed the state line into California under secret orders from Gen. Robert E. Lee to rendezvous at Ghost Mountain with one Cole Smith, with instructions to place the flag atop the mountain, and though their mission failed, the heroism displayed by these gallant men honored the cause for which they fought so valiantly.
In 1865m eight horsemen trek across the California desert, arriving at Ghost Mountain. Led by Captain Lafe Barstow (Errol Flynn) of the Mississippi Mounted Rifles. The eight soldiers encounter a man who calls himself California Beal (Howard Petrie). As a last desperate effort to turn the tide of the war, Barstow's mission is to persuade Cole Smith and his 500 men to raid California on behalf of the Confederacy. From their vantage point on the mountain, the men see a Shoshone war party attack a stagecoach. Barstow's men charge and drive off the Shoshone after the stage overturns, rescuing driver Gil Craigie (Chubby Johnson ) and the only surviving passenger, Johanna Carter (Patrice Wymore), traveling to join her fiancÃ©, Union Army officer Lt. Rickey (Scott Forbes).
That night, the Indians burn the stage. Next morning, a detachment of four Union soldiers and three Shoshone scouts examine the ashes. Barstow's men ambush the detachment, killing one and capturing the rest, including Lt. Rickey. From them, Barstow learns that the Union knows about their presence in California and that California Beal is actually Cole Smith himself. Smith leaves, promising to return in two days with his men. Craigie talks with the Shoshone scouts and learns that they are really a chief, Man Dog, and his sons. He warns Barstow that they will escape and return with their tribe. That night, while Jimmy (Dickie Jones) is on watch, the Indians try to escape. The soldiers kill two of them, but Man Dog evades their bullets.
In the morning, Rickey suggests that he take Johanna to a nearby garrison before the Indians arrive. Barstow, however, hopes that Smith's men will come before the Indians do and rejects the suggestion. Near dawn, Rickey's men jump their guards. One dies in the attempt, and another recaptured, but Rickey makes his escape. The Southerners find a riderless horse but it turns out to be Smith's, not Rickey's, and they realize that help is not coming.
Barstow decides to use all his men to lure the Indians away from the mountain while Johanna, Craigie and the Union trooper escape. The greatly outnumbered Rebels ride into a box canyon and turn to fight, charging the Shoshone. During the battle, Rickey returns with a troop of Union cavalry, and Johanna tells Rickey what has happened. The cavalry attempt to save Barstow's men but are too late; all the Southerners have been killed. Rickey raises their rebel flag on top of Rocky Mountain to salute the bravery of their fallen foes.
The film was originally titled Ghost Mountain, the title of the original story by Alan Le May. It was purchased by Warner Bros in November 1948 for $35,000, with William Jacobs assigned to produce. Ronald Reagan badly wanted to play the lead and was announced as a potential star. Errol Flynn, who had appeared in a number of successful Westerns for Warners was always named as a possibility.
By early 1950 the project had been retitled Rocky Mountain and Flynn was given the lead role over Reagan, to the latter's annoyance, as he felt he had brought the story to the studio. Reagan left Warner Bros soon afterwards, from a memo from Mr. Obringer to Jack Warner, dated February 17, 1950. (Flynn had meant to do another Western, Carson City but it was felt that script was not as ready.) Winston Miller was bought in to write the script.
Lauren Bacall was assigned to play the female lead under her contract with Warner Bros but turned it down and was suspended as a result. Bacall said at the time:
I turned it down because it's just not a part. It's kind of nothing. I'm not angry, I'm just incredulous. I've never been offered a role like this before. I don't want to do it and they shouldn't have to pay me. I shouldn't imagine they'll have any trouble replacing me.
She was replaced by Patrice Wymore. By July, Bacall would terminate her contract with Warners.
Filming started 29 May 1950. During filming on location in Gallup, New Mexico, Flynn fell in love with Wymore. Their engagement was announced in August and they later married.
Rocky Mountain earned Â£125,231 at the English box office.
The Washington Post called Rocky Mountain a "good and interestingly made picture".
According to James Garner, the script for Rocky Mountain was used as the basis for the first episode of the TV series Maverick. The film was the also used as the basis for the first episode of the television series Cheyenne (1955) entitled âMountain Fortress" on September 20, 1955.
- Rocky Mountain at the Internet Movie Database
- Rocky Mountain at the TCM Movie Database