Written and Posted by Sarah
Night Passage tells the story of two brothers: a good one (Stewart) and a bad one (Murphy). Murphy plays "The Utica Kid," a young outlaw working with the leader of a gang, Whitey Harbin (Duryea). They've masterminded a scheme of stealing railroad payrolls and are proving quite successful. Stewart is the railroad's undercover man out to investigate and stop the robberies.
This is an entertaining Western with a great cast. The beginning is a bit slow with Jimmy Stewart playing the accordion and singing. A full-blown fight starts up at the end-of-track camp, and even the women get involved. Once you get past that the movie picks up speed. Audie Murphy and Dan Duryea are fabulous together and really show their talents to a good advantage. There are some great moments and memorable lines. My favorite Duryea line is: "Way down in your boots, where you keep your brains, you think you're just a little bit faster than me --- and who knows? [Classic Duryea laugh.] It could be!"
Dan Duryea plays this role "over the top." This Whitey is even crazier than Whitey Kincade in Ride Clear of Diablo. In Night Passage, Duryea shouts most of his lines and gets the chance to give out with that maniacal laugh. He does a great job at being the bad guy, even though he's got you smiling every time that he and Audie Murphy interact.
The list of supporting players features some great names, including Jay C. Flippen, Dianne Foster, Jack Elam, Brandon De Wilde, Paul Fix and Ellen Corby.
The finale of this film is one that you'll never forget. James Stewart, Audie Murphy and Dan Duryea supply a climax that leaves you wishing the movie had been longer. If Audie Murphy's dramatic capabilities are ever questioned (and I don't see why they would be!), this is the finale to watch. He was never better.
All in all, I think that this is one of the most fun Dan Duryea roles. If you haven't seen it --- make sure you do! You can read a full synopsis from TCM by CLICKING HERE.