Just before the Civil War (but after the South has seceded), Southern saboteurs try to prevent railroad construction from crossing Kansas to the frontier; army captain Nelson is sent out to oppose them. As the tracks push westward, Nelson must contend with increasingly violent sabotage, while trying to romance the foreman's pretty daughter Barbara.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN November 01, 2023 at 11:43 AM
Built By Bullets, Dynamite And Blood Stained Spikes!
Kansas Pacific is directed by Ray Nazarro and written by Daniel B. Ullman. It stars Sterling Hayden, Eve Miller, Barton MacLane, Harry Shannon, Tom Fadden and Reed Hadley. A Cinecolor production with music by Albert Sendrey and cinematography by Harry Neumann.
"In the years preceding the War between the States, 'Bleeding Kansas' was split down the middle. Being a border state-and not legally committed to either side-Kansas was almost torn apart by its two equally violent factions.
A railroad to the West was being built. To the rapidly forming Confederacy, this line, if completed, could mean the difference between defeat and victory, because it could well become the lifeline for the Union's western military installations.
Some Southern groups therefore, took strong steps to see that the Kansas Pacific did not reach completion. Northern interests, on the other hand, took equally strong steps to see that it did. All of this happened before any formal declaration of war, so neither side was really justified in the acts of total violence which resulted."
It's a fictionalised account that would surely have the historians frothing at the mouth, but on its own modest terms Kansas Pacific is solid entertainment. It's 1860 and Hayden is an undercover Army engineer who is sent in to ensure that the railroad is built. Not easy because the construction is plagued by sabotage attacks by Southern Rebels led by William Quantrill (Hadley).
Thus the story follows a familiar path that sees Hayden viewed with suspicion by some, admired by others, and as the sabotage attempts increase in ferocity, so does Hayden's will to succeed. Some love action comes his way (Miller on dressage duties only), as does the chance for some stoic engine driving. The action is well staged by Nazarro, who oversees dynamite attacks and cannon warfare, and the location photography coupled with the train sequences are most pleasing.
Modest for sure, but performed well in the right areas and at 73 minutes in length it barely has time to annoy anyone but the history buffs. 6/10
Reviewed by bkoganbing6 / 10
DeMille did it better
This is a curious unpretentious little western from the former Monogram Studios about the building of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. The action takes place before and during the Civil War with Sterling Hayden as the Army Captain sent west to supervise. He supersedes Barton MacLane who is the foreman and has some time to romance MacLane's daughter played by Eve Miller.
Film has some nice action sequences, but the script has a lot of holes in it. Reed Hadley plays William Quantrill who's doing a lot of
sabotage and pretty successfully. Then for no real reason he stops and lets construction proceed. He says he's waiting for some artillery from the Confederate States of America. That's the only indication we get that the Civil War has officially begun. Then when the railroad is finished, Quantrill decides to use the artillery to attack moving trains. I suppose while he's waiting, Quantrill is out doing the stuff he's more infamous for.
Quantrill is a stock villain in a whole lot of westerns, yet no one has ever done a reasonably accurate film with him in it. Reed Hadley, who had one of the best speaking voices in Hollywood, does his best with what he's given here. All you folks who watched Racket Squad back in the 50s remember Hadley narrating and portraying Captain Braddock. His voice is unmistakeable.
Another unmistakeable voice belongs to Clayton Moore who has a bit part as one of Quantrill's henchman while on hiatus from The Long Ranger.
Don't expect too much from this. DeMille did it better in Union Pacific, but he had a lot more resources to work with.
Reviewed by bsmith55526 / 10
Exciting Railroad Yarn!
"Kansas Pacific" is another building of a railroad picture that turns out to be quite good. It was produced by Allied Artists on a larger than normal budget for an "A-minus" or "B-plus western. It was shot in color and contains some great shots of vintage trains as well as, some exciting battle sequences. There's one particularly convincing attack where the confederate supporters blow up an entire train.
The story takes place just prior to the American Civil War. A railroad is being built by the Union Army to supply its western posts. Confederate sympathizers are trying to prevent its completion.
Union engineer John Nelson (Sterling Hayden) is sent out from Washington to oversee the building of the railroad. Construction boss Cal Bruce (Barton MacLane) and his engineer "Smokestack" (Harry Shannon) have been experiencing troubles from unknown sources. It turns out that southern sympathizer Bill Quantrill (Reed Hadley)is behind the problems. Bruce's daughter Barbara (Eve Miller) is the token heroine who provides the love interest for Hayden.
There are many familiar faces to western fans in the supporting cast. Members of Hadley's gang include the likes of Douglas Fowley, Lane Bradford, Myron Healey, Riley Hill and a moustachioed Clayton Moore. James Griffith plays Joe Farley, a railroad guard. Hill was never a major player as a villain in westerns but he could always be singled out in the gang because he was usually clean cut and wore a "hero style" white hat. Moore of course was better known as TV's "The Lone Ranger" and had appeared in many Republic and Columbia serials (on both sides of the law) of the period.
Hayden was a big man, six foot six I believe, and was always more convincing in his screen fights than many of his contemporaries. MacLane although giving a good performance, was usually on the wrong side of the law in his movies and was better suited to brutish villainous roles.