At the U.T.
Hollywood has dealt with the idea of bigotry in many pictures. Efforts like "Pinky," "Gentleman's Agreement" and "Lost Boundaries" have all suffered because they were conscious attempts to deal with a Problem. However, in "Montana," Warner Brothers have slipped by a new, refreshing treatment. For this film, set in the West in days when men were men and the horses knew it, appears to be a simple Western.
The plot is a classic one. Montana is Cattle Country. Years before this episode begins sheep herders had tried to enter the country and share the fertile lands with the cattle ranchers, but the sheepmen were repulsed in a great battle. When one looks into the philosophy of this picture, he sees that the battle was obviously a victory for sin. For there is a principle of good living which should be obeyed: All Animals Are Created Equal.
To the scene of the original defeat comes the paragon of righteousness, Errol Flynn, a sheep herder whose father was killed in the great battle. Flynn knows the principle, "Thar hain't no reason why sheep and cattle cam't get along together."
Flynn must combat the narrow-mindedness of the cattle ranchers, led in spirit by Alexis Smith who believes. "This here has been cattle land for as long as I kin remember . . . we cain't give up the fine things that our fathers and grandfathers fought for." When she further explains that sheep should not be allowed in the area because they tear out the grass by the roots, and because they smell bad, her position becomes clear: discrimination against animals because of the way they eat and the way they smell.
To raise this picture from the level of the ordinary to that of greatness, the element of mental transition is emphasized. Posing as a peddler, Flynn makes love to Miss Smith. When she is completely enraptured he tells her that he is a sheep man. At first she rejects him; she can't understand him because he believes differently than she does. But at the end of the picture she realizes that she erred. It makes no difference who you are or what you are, she says, I love you anyhow. Flynn recovers from a bullet which felled him a minute before, and they kiss.
By treating this challenging theme in a simple, forthright manner, Warner Brothers has achieved something fine, the antidote to the illness of a confused world.