The Rawhide Years: a Tony Curtis Vehicle

Viewers can sit down and enjoy The Rawhide Years purely in terms of the Technicolor photography and chocolate box sets it makes use of –those who enjoy films from this era may even recognise some sets from other blockbusters released at this time. The riverboat made use of in several of the scenes may well be the one from 1953’s The Mississippi Gambler, since the film’s director, Rudolph Maté, was also in charge of the latter.

The plot for The Rawhide Years is a wildly unpredictable one, and features twists and turns that hit the viewer with a vengeance. These absurdities do end up piling up to an implausible level, however, and one is unable to take them too seriously, but it does provide an excellent vehicle for a mega-star of yesteryear, Tony Curtis, and offer sumptuous sets and cinematography that deliver a feast for the eyes.

Plotline for the Rawhide Years

Tony Curtis plays the part of a gambler on the run from a murder charge in The Rawhide Years. He heads out West, intent on becoming a cowboy in order to earn enough money to return to Galena, the river town where the trouble began, and clear his name.

Arthur Kennedy plays the fast-talking hustler that Curtis picks up along the way on bingo for money; refreshingly honest about his intentions to explore the contents of Curtis’ money belt as early on as he can. As these two off-beat characters share various adventures they begin to form an unlikely bond and this is the focus of The Rawhide Years.

The Viewer Can Expect Surprises

A big surprise for this reviewer was catching a glimpse of German-born Peter van Eyck as Boucher, a slick Frenchman in charge of running the saloon and gambling den located in Galena. He made several German films that were very well received, and ostensibly began appearing in international films in the 1960s, so discovering him in a smaller role from the 1950s was a treat. The culture contrast of his casting alongside Hollywood stalwarts like William Gargan and William Demarest can be viewed as a bridge of sorts, linking two very distinct periods of film history and making for very interesting viewing.

Colleen Miller takes the part of the pretty showgirl who has to endure separation from the hero for three long years, a time she spends forming a closer bond with the slippery Boucher. This inevitably creates problems for Tony Curtis’ character to resolve when he eventually arrives back in town. Colleen Miller remains a bit of a mystery to this reviewer, as IMDB doesn’t identify her, and information on who she was is proving difficult to locate.

The Rawhide Years seem to refer to the time Tony Curtis’ character spends after fleeing to the West, although this is very quickly dealt with in terms of running time. It is delivered as a segment of montages, taking up only two or three minutes of the total 85-minute run for the film, and the majority of screen time is spent on his return journey alongside the foil that Kennedy portrays. It makes for a bit of a question as to the reason behind the title, but does not detract from the enjoyment of the film overall.