He arrives in Twin Forks and the whole town is in a tizzy.
The Bounty Hunter sees Randolph Scott star as a Bounty Hunter tracking down three murdering train robbers who may have settled down in the small town of Twin Forks. It's directed by Andre de Toth, in what was the last of six Westerns he made with Scott. It's written by Winston Miller (story) & Finlay McDermid, and features support acting from Marie Windsor, Ernest Borgnine, Dolores Dorn & Howard Petrie. Music is by David Buttolph and Edwin B. DuPar photographs it at Redrock Canyon & the Warner Ranch in California. Coming as it did during the 3D boom of 1953/54, it was shot in 3D but ended up being released in standard flat 2D. Out of Warner Brothers it was shot in their own color format known as WarnerColor.
During the early days when civilisation was pushing its frontiers farther and farther West, there roamed a special creed of men. . .neither outlaws nor officers of the law, yet more feared than either. For reward money--they tracked down criminals wanted dead or alive, and made themselves both judge and executioner in some lonely court of no appeal. They were called "Bounty Hunters".
The WarnerColor may be dull and lifeless here, but that in no way sums up this perky Randy Scott Oater. Scott was always at his best when playing loners or troubled and pained drifters, in short, when away from a group dynamic he was allowed to flourish as the fine actor he was. So it be here as he lays it on as a no nonsense good bad guy! Quipping away in the face of aggression, Scott is able to portray a man not to be messed with-who is happy to kill for cash-yet remain charming and always endearing himself to the audience. It's quite a knack to be so tough yet also be so affable. But Scott on form could do it in his sleep, and to my mind that makes this an essential film for Scott fans to consider outside of his work for Boetticher & Peckinpah.
Once he reaches Twin Forks, the film gathers apace and starts to unfold as a whodunit like mystery. Sure the writing is not forming the townsfolk with any great urgency, and by golly it isn't hard to figure out who the hiding out villains are. But watching the town start to crack under the strain of either being suspicious of thy neighbours, or fretting about being found out, makes for an entertaining piece as Scott moves about them with almost sadistic glee. The smiling assassin comes to mind! It put me in mind of one of Audie Murphy's best film's, No Name On the Bullet, so any fans of that film should certainly get much from this one.
There's nothing to write home about technically, Toth deals in standard file and rank direction and DuPar's photography is lost within the dull sheen deliverance at Warner Ranch. While the support cast are nicely dressed, and made up, but ultimately just talking props serving to let Scott grasp the film with both hands. But grasp it he does! With gun in hand, tongue in cheek and the heart of a lion, he lifts this piece above its many other budgetary failings. 7/10
Nice try from Raimi, but ultimately it creeps just above average.
The Western is a tough genre to tackle in the modern age, more so when it's post 1992 Unforgiven's masterclass 101. But tackling both these challenges is nothing to the one which director Sam Raimi asks of the audience in his stab at the genre.
A female gunslinger is here played by a Hollywood beauty, Sharon Stone, but she isn't right for the lead role. She obviously looks gorgeous and she broods and pouts better than most of her modern day peers, but she lacks a menacing streak, a bit of believable nastiness that just might have lifted the film to better heights? We understand and expect the vulnerability she shows, but to succeed here in the testosterone fueled town of Redemption, she's going to have to convince as a tough gal. And Stone just isn't up to the task.
The film does have good points to enjoy though, very much so. The story, although gimmicky, works well as an entertaining popcorn munching tale, while the cast list reads like a whose who of solid and quality thespers. (Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DeCaprio, Keith David, Pat Hingle & Lance Henriksen). Also into the plus column is the always impressive cinematography from Dante Spinotti, and there is no denying Sam Raimi's keen eye for detail, with his zooming shots a real treat during the shoot out sequences. But in spite of this, and acknowledging that the makers have tried something different, The Quick & The Dead isn't quick enough on the draw to outlive it's leading lady misstep. 6/10
My name's Merrick. I'm United States Marshal here.
Along the Great Divide is directed by Raoul Walsh and written by Walter Doniger and Lewis Meltzer. It stars Kirk Douglas, Virginia Mayo, John Agar, Walter Brennan, Ray Teal, James Anderson and Morris Ankrum. Music is by David Buttolph and cinematography by Sidney Hickox.
U.S. Marshall Len Merrick (Douglas) and two deputies rescue suspected murderer Tim Keith (Brennan) from a lynch mob led by a local cattle baron who is convinced that Keith killed his son. The lawmen embark on a hazardous journey across the rugged terrains, determined to get Keith to Santa Loma for a fair trial...
Kirk Douglas' first Western is something of an undervalued treat. It was a film he didn't enjoy making, where working out in the desert with Raoul Walsh proved something of a cross to bear. Yet the director got a very good turn out of Douglas, allowing the actor to put down a marker in the genre that would serve him well throughout his career.
It sits very much in the psychological Western realm, a fact that some critics of the time failed to grasp - since complaints about not being a standard Oater were floated about! It really shouldn't have surprised anyone given that Douglas had already made a handful of superb film noir pictures, he was surely cast for this pic on the strength of his noir characters.
There's big father issues abound in the whole film, the various strands keeping the narrative edgy. Merrick is a damaged man, and his companions that make up the group will all test his metal to the max. Not just for father issues, and a lack of water, but also via the presence of Keith's daughter, Ann (Mayo), who mercifully isn't just a token female dressage character (she's feisty with believable emotional outpourings). It's a fraught journey for many reasons and Walsh, notwithstanding cheesing Douglas off, keeps it deftly wound tight.
The surroundings offer more troublesome discord to envelope the characters. Shot in gorgeous black and white by Hickox, the Alabama Hills and Mojave Desert locales provide barren landscapes that are juxtaposed with threatening looking rock formations. This often at times feels like an Anthony Mann/James Stewart landscape, which is high praise indeed. While the cast can't be faulted as they bring the drama to life, benefiting from the fine research of writers Doniger and Meltzer.
Undeniably the film's major drawback is the lack of whodunit worth. The pic unfortunately plays its hand far too early in this respect, meaning we know who the killer is. This could have lessened the excitement at story end, damagingly so, but we are never sure if we are going to be party to an Ox-Bow Incident or otherwise. This is well worth seeking out for fans of psychological Westerns, the many Oedipal themes and the scorching landscapes ensure it's a tasty little number. 8/10
Luke Perry (apparently very famous for 90210 which went by me)
Gutsy Gusto Oater.
Ambush At Tomahawk Gap tells the story of four outlaws, McCord (John Hodiak), Egan (David Bryan), Doc (Ray Teal) & Kid (John Derek), who after being released from a five year sentence for robbery at Yuma Territorial Prison, implode from within as they yearn to find the hidden loot from their ill gotten gains. Not only that, but they are in the middle of Indian territory and Apache attacks are frequent and savage in their execution.
Bloody & brutal Western programmer out of Columbia Pictures that's produced by Wallace MacDonald and directed by Fred Sears. Written by David Lang, the principal location shoot is at Corriganville, Simi Valley, California. With Technicolor enhanced cinematography coming from Henry Freulich. Though featuring a pretty weak, and at times nutty story, the film has a high viewing factor on account of its adherence to Western action staples, it helps, too, that Sears directs with an absolutely no nonsense approach.
Running at just shy of 80 minutes, it just doesn't have time to dwell on intricacies, instead choosing more to embrace that this isn't really about redemptive qualities; which since there's barely any on show is a rather good thing. Sears movie is grim and potent enough to warrant a recommendation to the serious Western fan. And it's also very easy on the eye. Bonus plot wise comes with two lovely kickers during the pulsating finale. The cast man up and give it gusto and brawn, with Hodiak particularly standing out, and even the inevitable lady character plot strand (Maria Elena Marques) doesn't cloy or hinder the pace and mood of the piece.
You will not want to ponder too much about it afterwards, but hopefully you will go away thinking that you have been royally entertained by the guns, arrows and fists that have flown and been thrown throughout the movie. 7/10