Some folks think adding color to black and white films is wrong. Not me. When it’s done right (like with Disney’s Zorro series) colorization can be a beautiful thing. But when it’s done wrong, as it was with Paradise Canyon, the film looks as washed out as an old hand-tinted photograph - and way worse than the original.
But the folks who decided to “restore” this 1935 film didn’t stop there. They also added a lame musical soundtrack produced with a tinny-sounding synthesizer. Every time I almost reached a point where I could ignore the pale colorization, the artificial music blared out - twice as loud as the dialogue - and reminded me I was watching an atrocity.
The only good thing I can say about this 2007 restored version (retitled Guns Along the Trail) is that the picture has been cleaned up, eliminating most of the flicker and fuzz common to these old oaters. If the restoration had stopped there, leaving the color and soundtrack alone, I'd be a happy man.
Paradise Canyon is one of those many Wayne films in the public domain, and has been packaged and repackaged on cheap DVDs for many years. I saw it in that form not long ago, and it’s no great shakes anyway. There’s too much talk, not enough action and nary a hint of comic relief. All the movie really has going for it is Wayne, with a semi-interesting performance by Yakima Canutt as the villain.
And why the new title - Guns Along the Trail? There are guns in it, it's true, though they aren’t used much. But because this is one of those odd westerns set in the Not-So-Old West of the 1930s, there are no trails. They have roads. Of course, the title Paradise Canyon made no sense either. There’s no canyon, and nothing remotely resembling paradise. Apparently both titles were just pulled out of a hat.
More Overlooked Films down the trail at Sweet Freedom.