Logan Stuart is a bit of drifter who never stays in one place to long. He's sorta a backwoods businessman and the film begins with him escorting Lucy, his good friend's fiancee, back home to Jacksonville, Oregon. On the way to Jacksonville it becomes clear that Lucy is attracted to Logan, who himself has feelings for someone else. Jacques Tourneur's Canyon Passage is an incredibly dense drama that touches on variety of issues, none so more than the thin line that exists between goo and evil. Shot in technicolor, Canyon Passage is a lavish production that really showcases the beautiful fronteir landscape. Being that Jacques Tourneur is typically known for his Noirs, Canyon Passage does have some of those same sensibilities maybe none more so than a scene early in the film where a man breaks into Logan's room and attacks him. Tourneur uses dense shadows and lighting to create a great sense of tension and mystery which is very reminiscient of his aforementioned Noirs. The thing that really makes Canyon Passage stand out as one of the best westerns I have seen is its dissection of the society in Jacksonville, showing how ones own individual desires can conflict with the communal good of society leading to situations where it isn't particularly clear who the villain and hero of this story is. Things are more than they appear and just because a man appears to be a well mannered, intelligent and sophisticated doesn't mean his intentions are good. The climax of the film involves an Indian attack that is very intense for the time but the reason it all works so well is Tourneur sets the stage early and often, hinting in both subtle and not so subtle ways that there is a real danger of living in the West which creates an aspect of unpredictability and tension.
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