The Silver(ton) screen

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The Silver(ton) screen

Residents recall when Hollywood mined the town for its scenery
A rockslide was created along the Animas River south of Silverton for the movie “Denver & Rio Grande.”
Clark Gable as Flint Mitchell and Maria Elena Marques, right, were among the cast and crew filming scenes from “Across the Wide Missouri” at Molas Lake.
Silverton boys were enlisted as extras in the movie “Great Day in the Morning,” released in 1956. Several posed with actor Robert Stack during filming. Mike Loftus, a former Silvertonian who is fourth from right, noted “these are movie clothes – not our own.” Loftus, who now lives in Louisiana, said this photo was taken near the old Swanson’s Grocery store, now the Villa Dallavalle. The movie also featured Virginia Mayo and Raymond Burr.
James Cagney, front right, leads a posse up Blair Street in pursuit of bank robbers in “Run for Cover.”
“Maverick Queen” was shot outside the old San Juan County Jail, now the historical museum in Silverton.
Filmed in Silverton

A list of movies that feature Silverton-area scenes:
1949

“Sand,” starring Mark Stevens, Coleen Gray and Rory Calhoun.


Plot: Jeff Kean’s expensive show horse escapes from a train and runs wild in the Colorado wilderness. Kean searches for the horse while the horse learns the ways of the wild. Scenes shot at Molas Lake.

“Colorado Territory,” starring Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo and Dorothy Malone.


Plot: Outlaw Wes McQueen is sprung from jail to help pull one last railroad job. He doesn’t like his new partners – except a dance-hall girl in Colorado – and anyway fancies Julie Ann, newly arrived from the East to set up home with her father. Maybe time to get out. Unfortunately, he also has a $10,000 reward on his head, dead or alive.

“A Ticket to Tomahawk,” starring Dan Dailey, Ann Baxter, Rory Calhoun and Marilyn Monroe.


Plot: In 1876, Dawson wants to prevent a train from getting to Tomahawk, Colo., on time, to keep it from competing with his stagecoach line. Excellent scenes at Molas Pass, along the railroad, at the depot and an epic scene of the 20-mule train pulling a locomotive along Blair Street when the upstart railroad runs out of track.
1950

“Across the Wide Missouri,” starring Clark Gable, Ricardo Montalbán.


Plot: Trapper Flint Mitchell and other mountain men from the rendezvous join forces to enter virgin trapping territory but must contend with a resentful Blackfoot chief. Scenes shot at Molas Lake.
1952

“Denver & Rio Grande,” starring Edmond O’Brien, Sterling Hayden and Kasey Rogers.


Plot: A romanticized history of the building of the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad in the Colorado mountains. Great scenes of the railroad, Molas Pass, Animas Canyon, Blair Street and the Silverton train depot.

“The Naked Spur,” starring James Stewart, Janet Leigh and Robert Ryan.


Plot: A bounty hunter trying to bring a murderer to justice is forced to accept the help of two less-than-trustworthy strangers. Scenes include Engineer Mountain in the background, the Animas Canyon and Molas Pass.
1955

“Run for Cover,” starring James Cagney, Viveca Lindfors and John Derek.


Plot: Matt Dow (Cagney) is mistaken as a train robber. After the town’s sheriff shoots the kid he’s riding with, Dow clears his name and ends up as the new sheriff. He romances a Swedish woman and settles into a peaceful life, only to find that the boy has a few secrets of his own.
Great scenes of Blair Street and the Animas Canyon, upper Animas and Cement Creek areas. Also has scenes shot at Aztec Ruins National Park. And many Silverton residents appear in the film.
1956
“The Maverick Queen,” starring Barbara Stanwyck, Barry Sullivan and Scott Brady.
Plot: A Pinkerton detective goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of thieves whose boss is a feisty lady saloonkeeper. Wonderful scenes showing the Grand Imperial Hotel and areas around Silverton.
“Great Day in the Morning,” starring Robert Stack, Virginia Mayo and Ruth Roman.
Plot: After a card game, Southerner Owen Pentecost finds himself the owner of a Denver hotel. Involved with two women – one who came with the hotel, and one newly arrived from the East to open a dress shop – he then has to make even more fundamental choices when, with the start of the Civil War, he becomes one of a small minority in a strongly Unionist town.
“Around the World in 80 Days,” starring David Niven, Cantinflas and Finlay Currie.
Plot: Adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel about a Victorian Englishman who bets that with the new steamships and railways he can do what the title says. Only a small portion of the movie features the railroad.
1957
“Night Passage,” starring James Stewart, Audie Murphy, Dianne Foster and Elaine Stewart.
Plot: The workers on the railroad haven’t been paid in months – that’s because Whitey and his gang, including the fast-shooting, dangerous, but likeable Utica Kid, keep holding up the train for its payroll. Grant McLaine, a former railroad employee who was fired in disgrace, is recruited to take the payroll through under cover. Includes great scenes at the depot, the Howardsville area and a must-see scene of a chase using the Mayflower Mill tram.
1962
“How the West Was Won.” Only a small portion of this saga was filmed here. The train was featured.
MARK ESPER

The Silver(ton) screen

A rockslide was created along the Animas River south of Silverton for the movie “Denver & Rio Grande.”
Clark Gable as Flint Mitchell and Maria Elena Marques, right, were among the cast and crew filming scenes from “Across the Wide Missouri” at Molas Lake.
Silverton boys were enlisted as extras in the movie “Great Day in the Morning,” released in 1956. Several posed with actor Robert Stack during filming. Mike Loftus, a former Silvertonian who is fourth from right, noted “these are movie clothes – not our own.” Loftus, who now lives in Louisiana, said this photo was taken near the old Swanson’s Grocery store, now the Villa Dallavalle. The movie also featured Virginia Mayo and Raymond Burr.
James Cagney, front right, leads a posse up Blair Street in pursuit of bank robbers in “Run for Cover.”
“Maverick Queen” was shot outside the old San Juan County Jail, now the historical museum in Silverton.
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