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Four Faces West

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Four Faces West
Directed byAlfred E. Green
Written byEugene Manlove Rhodes (novel)
C. Graham Baker
Teddi Sherman
William Brent (adaptation)
Milarde Brent (adaptation)
Produced byHarry Sherman
StarringJoel McCrea
Frances Dee
Charles Bickford
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • August 3, 1948 (1948-08-03)
Running time
89-90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.2 million[1]
Box office$1.1 million[1]

Four Faces West is a 1948 Western film starring Joel McCrea, his real-life wife Frances Dee, and Charles Bickford. It is based on the novel Pasó por aquí by Eugene Manlove Rhodes. Its plot concerns a down-on-his-luck cowboy who robs a bank. For its genre the film is unusual in that not a single shot is ever fired.


Ross McEwen quietly robs a bank in the New Mexico town of Santa Maria, taking the banker Frenger with him, then letting him go a few miles away, minus boots but with an I.O.U. for the $2000 he has taken.

When he gets back to town, Frenger offers a reward of $3000, dead or alive. Pat Garrett, the new marshal, warns the bounty hunters against unnecessary shooting, particularly in the back. McEwen is bitten by a rattlesnake before he can board a train, where he is helped by a passenger, nurse Fay Hollister.

The posse stop the train and search it, but quick thinking on McEwen's part (masquerading as the sleeping Hollister's husband, complete with fake baby) and a vague description of the robber save the wanted man. However, Monte Marquez, a gambler passenger, observes and overhears enough to figure out what McEwen has done.

The train tracks are washed out near Albuquerque, so the small group goes off alone via a route used to deliver mail. Fay finds out a posse from Santa Maria is after a wanted man and recalls that is where McEwen came on board. But he and she have developed an attraction to each other.

When they reach an Alamogordo saloon that Marquez's cousins run, a cattleman named Burnett is willing to take on McEwen as a hired hand. Garrett and deputy Clint Waters come to town, so McEwen must leave, but offers her an engagement ring. Fay rides along, but ends up separated and captured by Garrett's men.

After crossing the desert with difficulty, McEwen comes across a Mexican rancher named Florencio, whose family is ill. He stays to help and starts a fire to signal the lawmen, needing their assistance. Marquez gets there along with Garrett and Fay, but because Florencio is another relative of his, pretends that McEwen is a total stranger.

Garrett is not fooled, though, and McEwen is convinced to turn himself in, the marshal promising to vouch for his good deed.


Publicity still of Joel McCrea for film
Publicity still of Joel McCrea for film



features El Morro mountain and Inscription Rock at the El Morro N.P. in New Mexico - well worth a visit, as I did in 2009.[Paul Thomson, 2.11.2020]

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Four Faces West
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