EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|ALONG THE GREAT DIVIDE (director: Raoul Walsh; screenwriters: Walter Doniger/Lewis Meltzer; cinematographer: Sid Hickox; editor: Thomas Reilly; music: David Buttolph; cast: Kirk Douglas (Len Merrick), Virginia Mayo (Ann Keith), John Agar (Billy Shear), Walter Brennan (Pop Keith), Ray Teal (Lou Gray), Hugh Sanders (Frank Newcombe), Morris Ankrum (Ed Roden), James Anderson (Dan Roden), Charles Meredith (The Judge); Runtime: 86; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Anthony Veiller; Warner Bros.; 1951)|
|"Kirk Douglas stars in
his first western."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Kirk Douglas stars in his first
Walsh ("The Thief of Bagdad"/"Manpower"/"High Sierra") directs this exciting
psychological western shot in b/w, that features
stunning shots of the barren desert landscape and
first-class acting from the star and supporting
players. Its major fault is that it lacks an edge and
the mystery of the real killer is given away in the
first reel, making its surprise ending not surprising.
It's tautly written by Walter
Doniger and Lewis Meltzer.
The newly appointed to
the territory stoic and hard-nosed U.S. marshal Len
Merrick (Kirk Douglas) rescues Pop Keith (Walter
Brennan) from a lynch mob headed by the angry cattle
baron Ed Rhoden (Morris Ankrum), who accuses him of
rustling and killing his beloved younger son Ed--the
son he loves more than anything else in life. The
marshal, along with deputies Lou (Ray Teal) and Billy
(John Agar), intends to take the suspect to get a fair
trial in nearby Santa Loma despite Rhoden's threat to
lynch the suspect.
Along the way Pop's
feisty tomboy daughter Ann (Virginia Mayo) tags along. The trek across the desert
is a trip across the past, as the guilt-ridden marshal
has Pop remind him of his father--a U.S. marshal who
was lynched by those he arrested because his deputy
son didn't follow the law and accompany his dad to
take the accused to trial.
To avoid the
mountainous terrain, where Rhoden's men could be
waiting sight unseen, the marshal crosses the desert
and has to ward off an attack by Rhoden and his men.
Rhoden's oldest son Dan (James Anderson) kills Bill the deputy in
the shoot-out to get Pop and is captured. The thirsty
marshal and the four others reach a waterhole that Pop
leads them to, but it has been poisoned by Rhoden. Ann
takes the gun away from the marshal after kissing him.
When the insubordinate deputy Lou tries to kill his
boss because of the money deal he made with the sleazy
Dan, he's killed by Pop. Then Pop, rather than escape
over the nearby border, hands over his gun to the
marshal and they walk to town since the horses ran off
during the shooting. The midnight trial by the
traveling circuit judge (Charles Meredith) results in a
guilty-verdict, and Pop is set to hang at dawn. At the
last minute the marshal exposes the real killer, and
the happy ending has the lawman planning to marry Ann.
The routine tragic
story is helped by Walsh's crisp direction. It reminds one of the
similar-themed thinking man's western Pursued (1947)
that was also directed by Walsh.
REVIEWED ON 5/13/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ