Cattle Drive (1951, directed by Kurt Neumann)


In this coming-of-age Western, Dean Stockwell plays Chester Graham, Jr., the spoiled and unruly son of a railroad owner (Leon Ames).  While riding on his father’s train and making trouble for the conductor, Chester overhears his father talking about sending him to a military school.  When the train makes as top, Chester impulsively runs away.  The train leaves without him and Chester finds himself stranded in the middle of the wilderness.  That’s when he sees cowboy Dan Matthews (Joel McCrea) trying to catch a wild stallion.

Dan is a part of a cattle drive.  Knowing that he can’t leave Chester to die in the wilderness, Dan brings him back to his camp.  The other members of the company aren’t too keen on having to look after a spoiled brat along with the cattle and Chester isn’t too happy to hear that he’ll be expected to work if he expects to get fed.  But with no choice but to work together, Chester, Dan, and the rest of the company make the journey to Santa Fe.  Chester finally drops his attitude enough to work with the company’s cook (Chill Wills) while Dan deals with a rival cowboy named Currie (Henry Brandon). Chester learns about responsibility and Dan finally finds the courage to consider settling down.

Of the many westerns that Joel McCrea made over the course of his career, he considered Cattle Drive to be his favorite and it’s easy to see why.  Cattle Drive features McCrea doing what he did best, playing a tough but good-hearted and down-to-earth cowboy who looked after an outsider.  If you were ever lost in the old west, Joel McCrea is precisely the type of cowboy that you would hope would come to your rescue.  The plot features almost every single cattle drive cliché that you could imagine but McCrea plays his role with a winning combination of grit and compassion and he and Dean Stockwell, who is also very good, make a good team.  Shot in Death Valley and Utah, Cattle Drive feels and look authentic and should be enjoyed by anyone looking for good, heartfelt western.

One response to “Cattle Drive (1951, directed by Kurt Neumann)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 11/1/21 — 11/7/21 | Through the Shattered Lens

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