Review: Lewis Seiler’s “Pittsburgh,” Starring John Wayne

John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, and Randolph Scott in
John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, and Randolph Scott in "Pittsburgh"

After the success of The Spoilers, Universal and agent/producer Charles K. Feldman quickly brought stars John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, and Randolph Scott back together for Lewis Seiler’s coal industry saga Pittsburgh. Wayne and Scott play coal-miner buddies who, with the help of Dietrich, build their own company and rise to the top of the whole industry during the early 1900s. Much like in The Spoilers, the two men spend most of the film feuding, at one moment about how best to run the company and the next about who will end up with Dietrich in the end. Wayne’s selfish actions lead to a brutal and lengthy fight sequence between the men, albeit less memorable than that climactic one in The Spoilers. Scott and Dietrich jump ship, leaving Wayne to run the company all by himself. Through feuds with labor unions and selfish poor choices, he drives the business downhill until the company forces him out, landing Wayne right back where he started. But when the story reaches modern day, America’s entry into the war forces them all to set aside their differences to come back together for their country. That last half hour repeatedly hammers home the idea of individual responsibility on the homefront to a tiresome degree, but prior to that Pittsburgh is an entertaining enough industrialized take on those same western dynamics present in The Spoilers.

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For More on Pittsburgh

Read the review in The New York Times

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