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Canyon Passage

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Canyon Passage
US theatrical poster
Directed byJacques Tourneur
Written byErnest Pascal
Ernest Haycox (novel)
Produced byWalter Wanger
StarringDana Andrews
Brian Donlevy
Susan Hayward
Patricia Roc
CinematographyEdward Cronjager
Edited byMilton Carruth
Color processTechnicolor
Walter Wanger Productions
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release dates
  • July 15, 1946 (1946-07-15) (Portland, Oregon)
  • July 17, 1946 (1946-07-17) (United States)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4,263,651[1]

Canyon Passage is a 1946 American Western film directed by Jacques Tourneur and set in frontier Oregon.[2] It stars Dana Andrews, Susan Hayward and Brian Donlevy. Featuring love triangles and an Indian uprising, the film was adapted from the 1945 Saturday Evening Post novel Canyon Passage by Ernest Haycox. Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Jack Brooks (lyrics) were nominated for Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Ole Buttermilk Sky."

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • Hoagy Carmichael - Old Buttermilk Sky (Canyon Passage Ending)
  • Rogue River Valley song from "Canyon Passage"
  • Excerpt From "Canyon Passage"



In 1856, ambitious freight company and store owner Logan Stuart agrees to escort Lucy Overmire home to the settlement of Jacksonville, Oregon, along with his latest shipment. Lucy is engaged to Logan's best friend, George Camrose. The night before they depart, however, Logan has to defend himself from a sneak attack in his hotel room; though it is too dark to be sure, he believes his assailant is Honey Bragg. Later, he explains to Lucy that he once saw Bragg leaving the vicinity of two murdered miners. Despite Logan's unwillingness to accuse Bragg (since he did not actually witness the crime), Bragg apparently wants to take no chances.

On their journey, Logan and Lucy become attracted to each other. They stop one night at the homestead of Ben Dance and his family. There, Logan introduces Lucy to his girlfriend, Caroline Marsh.

In Jacksonville, Logan tries to get George to stop playing poker with (and losing to) professional gambler Jack Lestrade, even giving him $2000 to pay off his debts, but George is more interested in the prospect of getting rich quick without hard work. What Logan does not know is that George has been stealing gold dust left in his safekeeping by the miners to pay some of his losses. George also has a secret he is keeping from Lucy; he keeps propositioning Lestrade's wife Marta, though she shows no interest in him.

Bragg keeps trying to provoke Logan into a fight and finally succeeds. Logan wins, but does not kill Bragg when he has the chance. Humiliated, Bragg tries to ride Logan down on his way out of town.

George decides to move away to make a fresh start and finally gets Lucy to agree to marry him. Logan then proposes to Caroline and is accepted, much to the disappointment of Vane Blazier, Logan's employee, who is in love with Caroline himself.

Lucy decides to accompany Logan to San Francisco to pick out a wedding dress. Along the way, they are ambushed by Bragg. Though their horses are shot dead, Logan and Lucy get away and return to town, only to discover that George is in grave trouble.

When a miner appears months earlier than George had expected and informs him that he wants to get his gold the next day, George kills the drunk miner. His crimes are traced back to him as mule-riding musician Hi Linnet saw him stealing some gold, and the miner's lucky gold nugget is found in George's possession. The locals, led by Johnny Steele, find George guilty of murder and lock him up, intending a late-night lynching. However, when one of the settlers rides in with a warning that the Indians are on the warpath after Bragg killed a woman, Logan helps George escape in the confusion.

Logan organizes a party to fight the Indians; Logan's group discovers that the Indians have murdered a number of settlers, including Ben Dance and one of his sons. When Bragg seeks the party's protection, Logan refuses and Bragg is killed by the Indians. The Indians are then driven off by Logan's men.

Afterward, Logan and Lucy learn that George was found and killed by one of the townsfolk. Caroline also has second thoughts about marriage to a man who is away so frequently on business; she breaks their engagement and accepts Vane. Logan and Lucy are free to follow their hearts.



The film's premiere in Portland, Oregon, attracted large crowds. The arrival of Walter Wanger and the actors featured a Native American ceremony and a parade through Portland's streets led by Governor Earl Snell.[3]

The location photography in Umpqua National Forest and the performances by Hayward and Roc were praised by critics from Time and The New York Times.[4] The unsigned review in the latter regretted the film's reliance on formulaic plot devices and characters typical of "sagebrush melodrama," but concluded that, "[w]eighing its good points against its bad ones, 'Canyon Passage' still has a very comfortable margin in its favor."[5]

The film's reputation has grown substantially over the years despite its sporadic availability. Chris Fujiwara would call it “one of the greatest westerns” in his book The Cinema of Nightfall: Jacques Tourneur and Jonathan Rosenbaum hailed it as perhaps the most complex and most impressive of Tourneur's westerns.[6] Richard Brody of The New Yorker would champion the film as well, describing it as "a complex array of subplots and side characters that offers a quasi-sociological view of frontier life. The relentless drinking, gambling, gunplay, and battles with Native Americans blend with struggles for love and money to evoke a raw and violent culture that plays, in the year after the Second World War ended, as utterly contemporary; avoiding history and politics, Tourneur serves up, in a dreamlike Technicolor glow, a pastoral film noir."[7] Elliott Stein of The Village Voice would also call it a "great, dazzling, underrated and unconventional Western...memorable largely for the director’s concentration on the massive beauty of the American landscape."[8]

According to Variety, the film earned $2,250,000 in rentals in 1946[9] but resulted in a loss of $63,784.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Matthew Bernstein, Walter Wagner: Hollywood Independent, Minnesota Press, 2000 p443
  2. ^ Fujiwara, Chris (1998). Jacques Tourneur: The Cinema of Nightfall. McFarland. pp. 125–. ISBN 9780786404919. Retrieved December 29, 2012.
  3. ^ Pres. Truman Honors Nisei Combat Group, 1946/07/18, Universal Studios, 1946, retrieved May 4, 2022
  4. ^ Eduardo Moreno, The Films of Susan Hayward, Citadel Press, Secaucus, NJ, 1979, p. 111.
  5. ^ "'Canyon Passage,' in Which Dana Andrews Is Typical Western Hero, Opens at Criterion". The New York Times. August 8, 1946. Retrieved September 2, 2023.
  6. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (June 2006). "A Dozen Eccentric Westerns". Archived from the original on June 30, 2022.
  7. ^ Brody, Richard. "Canyon Passage". The New Yorker. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  8. ^ Stein, Elliott (November 17, 2009). "Canyon Passage". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  9. ^ "60 Top Grossers of 1946", Variety 8 January 1947 p. 8

External links

This page was last edited on 2 February 2024, at 19:22
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