Pony Express – A fast-paced horse opera
A lively but routine oater about the adventurous mountain man Buffalo Bill Cody (Charlton Heston) and the laconic frontier man Wild Bill Hickok and their sidekicks starting the famous wilderness mail route from back East in St. Joseph to out West in Sacramento in only ten days.
There’s a subplot that takes up most of the film’s energy of a brother and sister team of prominent Californians, Rance Hastings and Evelyn Hastings (Rhonda Fleming), who scheme to split California from the Union in 1860.
Joe Cooper is the owner of the Overland Stage who fears the Pony Express will put him out of trade and teams with the greedy sibling duo to impede the Pony Express. Hoping to make a fortune by getting California to secede from the Union, the Hastings arm the Native Americans and they attack the Pony Express. Tomboy Denny, smitten with Buffalo Bill, gives her life to save his during a skirmish led by Indian Chief Yellow Hand.
In the end the good guys stop the sinister plot and save the Union, and the mail goes through in record time. The 101 minutes is not justified to tell this modest story. Also the directing by Jerry Hopper lacks real imagination and he fails to give the film an overall shape. It’s taken from a story by Frank Gruber and written by Charles Marquis Warren. The film gets over mostly because Chuck Heston keeps things hopping with his jaunty behaviour. It’s a loose remake of the popular 1925 silent. JK