The Wells Fargo Company brings courier and financial services to the West. [Dir: Frank Lloyd/ Joel McCrea, Frances Dee, Bob Burns/ 96 min/ Western/ Creator as Hero, Unions & Monopolies, Pro-Capitalism]
“The government has a monopoly on the mail. That’s so, ain’t it? That [Wells Fargo courier] is operating without a license. He’s diverting money from the government, and it’s your plain duty to stop him!” So exhorts the local postmaster to the sheriff in the opening scene of this film. It seems that the enterprising Wells Fargo courier is taking business away from the Post Office by offering better service and lower prices. Fortunately, this courier travels so fast that even the sheriff can’t catch him.
The telling of his tale is really the telling of the creation of Wells Fargo and of the general westward expansion in the U.S. Operating under the orders of co-founder Henry Wells, this heroic courier spends most of his time blazing a trail into the wilderness, opening and establishing branch offices along the way. Again and again he overcomes dangers and difficulties to provide vital services to his customers. In one scene, he delivers important financial papers just in time to save a man’s business. In another, he transports gold for miners. In another, he transports back east a baby whose mother died. The invariable close to any scene ending in a desperate need for transportation is the implicit and sometimes spoken words of determination: “Wells Fargo will ship anything.”
All this makes for a positive portrayal of businessmen as heroic benefactors. Otherwise, it’s a fairly typical western, with plenty of horseback riding and shoot ’em up, set against a panorama of picturesque open wilderness. This film is a must-see for libertarian fans of the western genre, but even those less so enamored will find much to like in this satisfying tribute to the builders of Wells Fargo.