Filmmaking legend Cecil B. DeMille (The Plainsman, The Ten Commandments) directs the classic screen duo of Barbara Stanwyck (Internes Can’t Take Money, The Lady Eve) and Joel McCrea (The Great Man’s Lady, The Palm Beach Story) in this explosive western about the struggle to build America’s first transcontinental railroad. Jeff Butler (McCrea), overseer of the Union Pacific’s construction, finds a network of schemers bent on sabotage. Most prominent are gamblers Sid Campeau (Brian Donlevy, Beau Geste), Jack Cordray (Anthony Quinn, Against All Flags) and Dick Allen (Robert Preston, Reap the Wild Wind). Dick is a former pal of Jeff’s, but their relationship changes as they fight over the railroad and over Mollie Monahan (Stanwyck), the railroad’s spirited postmistress. Featuring Akim Tamiroff (The General Died at Dawn) and Lynne Overman (Spawn of the North), this action-packed spectacle, filled with political intrigue, stampeding buffalo and train wrecks, delivers everything you would expect from a Cecil B. DeMille epic.
As embodied by Alan Bates, Butley falls back on the surgically precise wit and savage eloquence that helped put him in his current circumstances in the first place. The blitzkrieg of vitriolic commentary with which Butley engages lovers, students, rivals, and allies, all with equal ferocity, becomes a glass bottom boat illuminating the churning depths of his bankrupted soul. Acclaimed playwright Harold Pinter, in what Time Magazine hailed as “a quite superior directorial debut,” turns author Simon Gray’s single-set, dialogue driven stage play into an irresistible dynamic visual experience that tracks Bates’ hilarious and fearless performance with cunning precision.
Bates and an expert supporting cast, including OscarÃ‚Â® winner Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy), joust with a sly, self-referencing wit and an unselfconscious exuberance that is breathtaking. With every verbal parry and valedictory flourish of wordplay, Butley’s life becomes more of an inescapable bear trap of thwarted ambition, clandestine affection, and squandered brilliance.