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Silver River (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Silver River
Silver River poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byRaoul Walsh
Written byHarriet Frank, Jr.
Based onstory by Stephen Longstreet
Produced byOwen Crump
Jack L. Warner
StarringErrol Flynn
Ann Sheridan
CinematographySidney Hickox
Edited byAlan Crosland Jr.
Music byMax Steiner
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • May 18, 1948 (1948-05-18)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3,484,000[3][2]

Silver River is a 1948 Western film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Errol Flynn and Ann Sheridan. The film is based on a Stephen Longstreet story that was turned into a novel.[4]

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During the American Civil War, Army Captain Mike McComb is cashiered from the army when he disobeys orders in order to prevent the Confederates from stealing the one million dollars he is guarding by burning the money. After being publicly humiliated by the townspeople, he and his friend 'Pistol' Porter confiscate gambling equipment and set out to Silver City, Nevada to open a saloon and gambling hall. On his way to St. Joseph, Mike meets Georgia Moore, a beautiful, serious woman who runs the Silver River Mine with her husband, Stanley, and is currently hiring all the available wagons to transport necessary mining equipment.

McComb wins ownership of the wagons in a poker game, much to Georgia's anger. Although he allows her to travel with him, she is unamused with McComb's playful behavior and soon abandons him. Once in Silver City, McComb, in a short time, builds the most successful saloon of the area. He hires John Plato Beck as his lawyer, an alcoholic but good-hearted man. Meanwhile, Georgia is worried when she finds out Stanley has bought the wagons from McComb in exchange for 6,000 shares in the mine. This is only worsened when it turns out that Stanley does not have the money to finish his smelter and turns to McComb, who demands a one-third interest in the mine. As he builds his empire, McComb opens a town bank, in which the townspeople can accept to pay vouchers in lieu of cash.

Georgia is not pleased when McComb usurps a visit by President of the United States, Ulysses S. Grant. Encouraged by the President, McComb plans on extending his empire up to and including Black Rock Range. Although he is aware of the dangerous Shoshone Indians in that area, he assigns the pliable Stanley to realize his plans. When Plato makes him feel guilty, McComb warns Georgia about the danger her husband is in, but it turns out that they are too late: Stanley has been killed by the Indians.

After the funeral, Georgia shortly visits San Francisco and is romanced by McComb upon her return. During a formal dinner party to launch their new mansion, Plato throws a tantrum while drunk and breaks up the party with accusations against McComb. The townspeople start to lose their faith in McComb and withdraw their money from his bank. To worsen matters, the other owners try to corner the silver market. Georgia begs McComb to reopen the mines, and when he refuses, she leaves him. Soon after, McComb is forced to file bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Plato runs for the United States Senate and in front of a crowd is killed by his competition, Banjo Sweeney. McComb convinces the townspeople to avenge Plato's death. However, when Sweeney is about to be killed by the mob, McComb stops them and convinces them to allow Sweeney to stand trial. He promises to make Silver City a better place, and Georgia, impressed with McComb's new attitude, reunites with him.




The film began as an original story for the screen by Stephen Longstreet, who had written Stallion Road. Longstreet said he got the historical aspects of the story from his grandfather Stephen Longstreet, a cousin of General James Longstreet.[5]

It was bought by Warner Bros announced in December 1946 that they would make it as a vehicle for Humphrey Bogart with Owen Crump to produce.[6] Warners hired Longstreet to turn his story into a screenplay.[7][8]

Before the film was made, Longstreet received an offer to have his story published as a novel.[9][10] In August 1947 Warners ordered 100,000 copies of the novel to be published by Ross Press.[11]

By February 1947 Errol Flynn's name was linked to the movie.[12] By April both Flynn and Ann Sheridan were signed as leads.[13] Ann Sheridan later said the film "was not a good picture" and Jack Warner "was amazed that I accepted it" but that "Errol Flynn was a big box office name and women didn't get to do Westerns very often and I thought it might be a good combination and I thought that it might turn into a good picture. Unfortunately it didn't."[14]

Raoul Walsh agreed to take on direction, determined to keep the film's star Errol Flynn on a "short leash".[15] Flynn had gained an infamous reputation in Hollywood for his behavior and drinking habits.[15]

Longstreet later wrote that "by 1947 Flynn had deteriorated. His drinking dominated, and I suspect drugs too; his wives, he'd say, were like shackles. And he was finding it hard to face a camera. The drinking had angered Warner Bros and he was about to be let go."[16] Longstreet says Anne Sheridan was known for "lapping up the sauce" as well, and claims Walsh told him "Kid, write it fast. They're not drinking. They promised Jack Warner that, but you never know."[16]

In April, Thomas Mitchell signed to play the third lead.[17]


The production started in April 1947. It was Flynn's first movie since last August 1946 when he finished making Cry Wolf. In between he had made a long cruise on the Zaca which was turned into the movie The Cruise of the Zaca and was a period where he bought property on Jamaica.[18]

The movie was shot in Warner Bros studio and on location in Bishop City, California. It was a big budget effort with hundreds of extras and over 75 speaking parts.[5]

Longstreet says "at first the shooting of the picture went well. Work was good and Walsh, experienced at handling actors, kept matters in control."[19] However the writer says one morning he arrived on set to find Walsh tearing pages out of the script because they contained "too much yak-yak." Longstreet says "I knew then the picture was in trouble."[19]

Throughout the shoot Flynn and Sheridan would sip ice water which contained vodka. Flynn told Longstreet "I can't make head nor tail of your story."[19]

Ann Sheridan also held up production when she fell ill with laryngitis. Jack L. Warner wrote the following memo during the shoot:

If Flynn is late, if liquor is being used so that from the middle of the afternoon on it is impossible for the director to make any more scenes with Flynn, if liquor is brought on the set or into the studio we must hold Flynn legally and financially responsible for any delay in making the picture. We may go so far as to abrogate the entire contract and sue him for damages...We will never again make pictures where Flynn or any other artist becomes incoherent due to liquor or whatever it may be...This has happened repeatedly during the last pictures we have made in which Flynn has appeared and we cannot permit it any longer.[15]

Longstreet said "the stars' behavior resulted in delays, which led to cost overruns, which forced the studio heads to declare Siver River was finished. It is the only studio picture I know of for which there is no ending; the picture ends in midair, but no one, as far as I know, ever bothered to ask why."[19]

Filming was complete by August.[20] Flynn and Walsh never worked together again.[21]



The New York Times said Walsh crammed "all the excitement... into the first ten minutes or so" and argued the film "went downhill after that."[22] The Los Angeles Times said it "boasts all the trimmings."[23]

Filmink magazine called it "a poor movie. After an exciting opening sequence set during the Civil War (which feels like it was tacked on to jazz things up after an unsuccessful preview because it doesn’t have that much to do with the plot), the story slows down and becomes this weird slog." [24]

Box office

Variety estimated that by the end of 1948 the film had earned $2.2 million in rentals in the US.[25] This was an improvement on recent Flynn vehicles.[26]

The film recorded admissions of 1,416,488 in France.[27]

According to Warner Bros records, the film earned $2,174,000 domestically and $1,310,000 overseas.[2]


  1. ^ H. Mark Glancy, "Warner Bros Film Grosses" Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television
  2. ^ a b c Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 28 DOI: 10.1080/01439689508604551
  3. ^ "Warner Bros Film Grosses" Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television
  4. ^ Info "Screenplay Info for Silver River (1948)". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 31, 2010. {{cite web}}: Check |url= value (help)
  5. ^ a b Hollywood Letter By Frank Daugherty Special to The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor 6 June 1947: 5.
  6. ^ Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 19 Dec 1946: 43.
  7. ^ NEWS OF THE SCREEN: New York Times 19 Dec 1946: 42.
  8. ^ DRAMA AND FILM: WARNERS' 'SILVER RIVER' TO REVIVE RUGGED DAYS Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 18 Feb 1947: A2.
  9. ^ DRAMA AND FILM: Wallis Names DeFore Star of 'Paid in Full' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 26 June 1947: A2.
  10. ^ FOX WILL DO FILM ON KLEMPNER BOOK: 8 Stars to Appear in Version of 'A Letter to 5 Wives' -- Warners Enlarging Studio. New York Times 26 June 1947: 20.
  11. ^ "Literati". Variety. August 20, 1947. p. 53.
  12. ^ DRAMA AND FILM: Warners' 'Silver River' to Revive Rugged Days Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 18 Feb 1947: A2.
  13. ^ MITCHUM TO STAR IN STEINBECK FILM: New York Times 1 Apr 1947: 33.
  14. ^ Killer Tomatoes: Fifteen Tough Film Dames by Ray Hagen, Laura Wagner, McFarland, 17 Sep. 2004 p 187
  15. ^ a b c "Silver River: Overview Article". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved January 31, 2010.
  16. ^ a b Longstreet p 158
  17. ^ MYRNA LOY SIGNED FOR 'THE RED PONY': New York Times 3 Apr 1947: 32.
  18. ^ DRAMA AND FILM: Carter, Wynn Teaming in 'Century' Talked Up Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 22 Apr 1947: A3.
  19. ^ a b c d Longstreet p 159
  20. ^ Errol Flynn Quieter but Seeks New Adventures Strong, E J. Los Angeles Times24 Aug 1947: C1.
  21. ^ Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer, Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 153
  22. ^ 'Silver River,' With Errol Flynn, Ann Sheridan at Strand -- French Film in Bow T.M.P. New York Times ]22 May 1948: 8.
  23. ^ 'Silver River,' Saga of West, at Warners Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 22 May 1948: 7.
  24. ^ Vagg, Stephen (November 24, 2019). "The Films of Errol Flynn: Part 4 – Going to Seed". Filmink.
  25. ^ "Top Grossers of 1948". Variety. January 5, 1949. p. 46.
  26. ^ "National Box office Survey". Variety. June 2, 1948. p. 3.
  27. ^ 1950 French Box office figures at Box Office Story


  • Longstreet, Stephen (1988). "Gentleman Rogue". In Peary, Danny (ed.). Close-ups : intimate profiles of movie stars by their costars, directors, screenwriters, and friends. Simon & Schuster. pp. 157–159.

External links

This page was last edited on 14 March 2023, at 07:07
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