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: Ride a Crooked Trail (1958)  ( 2649 )

« : October 18, 2017, 10:58:14 AM »

Middle of the Street.

Ride a Crooked Trail is directed by Jesse Hibbs and adapted to screenplay by Borden Chase from a story written by George Bruce. It stars Audie Murphy, Walter Matthau, Gia Scala, Leo Gordon, Henry Silva and Eddie Little. A CinemaScope/Eastman Color production, music is by Joseph Gershenson and cinematography by Harold Lipstein.

A blend of the breezy and the beefy here as Audie saddles up as Joe Maybe, a bank robber who after assuming the identity of the detective who was sent to capture him, winds up as the sheriff of a corrupt town. Ironically it's the town he and his dastardly cohorts had planned for their next big robbery. But as Joe insinuates himself into the company of the town's better citizens, he begins to doubt his dark side.

It's pretty routine as per the bad man trying to turn good axis of Western movie plotting, but there's a good sense of fun running throughout. Murphy himself seems to really be enjoying himself in the role of Joe Maybe. Leading the front of frivolity is Matthau as the town judge, his capacity for alcohol is as legendary as his ability to find a quip or sarcasm in the most trying of situations. Many of the scenes shared between the two men are most funny, be it hangovers, court room shenanigans or generally sounding each other out, they make for a great pair of characters.

Of course all this good fun has to ease off for the plot to take its darker turn. Which brings in the villains and the action scenes just as Joe's conscience starts to gnaw away at him. Costuming is appealing, especially when modelled by Scala, Gershenson provides another one of his lively Western musical scores and Lipstein's Scope photography makes good use of the gorgeous scenery. It's a bit creaky in parts and Hibbs sometimes lets the pace sag, but this is good entertainment for Audie and Matthau fans. 6.5/10

UK - Cable.

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« #1 : October 18, 2017, 12:48:37 PM »

I like this one a lot. I'd go a bit higher than 6.5 but just because of Murphy and the rest of the cast.

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« #2 : December 30, 2020, 11:54:06 PM »

I really like this movie outside of the wonky pace in the second half, it should have been 10 minutes shorter. But the photography is nice, especially the location night scenes, which feature good lighting. I like Audie Murphy more than the next person and love Matthau, so this was something of a pleasant surprise. Not essential viewing, but certainly a must see for any Murphy fans who haven't seen this -- or Matthau fans that want to see him co-starring in a 50's western. Murphy's character hiding his identity for most of the movie keeps the momentum going until the disappointing showdown between Murphy and Henry Silva, made worse by the use of day-for-night.

The transfer on the Kino Audie Murphy set was nice. Nothing amazing, but certainly good enough.

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« #3 : April 13, 2021, 01:39:38 AM »

This has got a great start in spite  of the awful southern accent sported by Matthau (something he could afford when not being very famous) in a kind of Roy Bean role.  Of course, his  accepting Murphy's false identity on the simple fact that he owns a marshall badge strains credibility  but one accepts it as the narrative pace is fast and the dialogues, thanx to Matthau, very funny. But the movie goes downhill as Matthau gradually abandons the scene to make room for Murphy and Scala and the boy. So I think that 6/10 is an adequate rating.

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