Customer Reviews


7 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cynical, witty and murderous...a fine, jaundiced view of humanity
How could someone not like a western full of genial and persuasive cynicism, full of improbable piety and stuffed with vivid characters, from the two leads, Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda, down to just about everyone else. And look at the pedigree: Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, who gave us All About Eve, Letter to Three Wives and that most elegant of cynical films, Five...
Published on 19 Jun. 2007 by C. O. DeRiemer

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What A Disappointing Dog!
I'm a fan of Westerns and have over 150 in my collection. I'd been waiting for years for this highly rated movie with Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda to become a) available for purchase and b) within reason price wise. When it barely hit b), I jumped.

Wow! What a disappointment! Starting with Kirk Douglas's industrial red weird hair dye. It's trying to be funny...
Published 5 months ago by brian


Most Helpful First | Newest First

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cynical, witty and murderous...a fine, jaundiced view of humanity, 19 Jun. 2007
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: There Was a Crooked Man [DVD] [1970] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
How could someone not like a western full of genial and persuasive cynicism, full of improbable piety and stuffed with vivid characters, from the two leads, Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda, down to just about everyone else. And look at the pedigree: Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, who gave us All About Eve, Letter to Three Wives and that most elegant of cynical films, Five Fingers, and with a screenplay by David Newman and Robert Benton, just after their first effort, Bonnie and Clyde, made their bones for them in Hollywood. Well, the answer is, an awful lot of people didn't like it and even more ignored it...including the studio executives. There Was a Crooked Man was buried after it finally was released, with almost no marketing dollars devoted to it.

I think the studio had no idea what to do with the film. Not only is it a witty and cynical western, it has a climax which is mordantly violent and unexpectedly ruthless (especially if you weren't paying attention to a brief scene at the start of the film). Not just that, we wind up with one of the leads dead (snake bite to the throat, guaranteed to make you flinch) and the other...well, you may find yourself pondering just who is the crooked man all the fuss was about.

Me, I like the movie a lot. It's not perfect; it's too long; there are a couple of sub-themes that could have been established faster. Still, for an amusing, sardonic look at human nature, There Was a Crooked Man is hard to beat.

Paris Pitman, and don't forget the Jr., please (Kirk Douglas), is a charming, eye-glass wearing rogue. He could talk a coyote out of a chicken, one character says. He's a natural leader, smart and calculating. He's also a robber and a killer. He stole a whole lot of money and, we begin to notice, his gang one by one doesn't make it far. Paris does, but eventually is caught because of his fondness for easy women. Woodward Lopeman (Henry Fonda) is an upright lawman who doesn't drink, take bribes or, as far as we can tell, consort with easy women. The two meet at a desolate territorial prison set in the middle of nothing but desert scrub and blistering heat. Pitman is doing time for the robbery. However, he hid his loot before he was captured and he plans to find a way to escape. Lopeman is the new warden, determined to rehabilitate the prisoners when he can, and at least be fair to them when he can't. Before long Pitman has recruited his cellmates on a carefully organized breakout. They're an odd bunch, but Pitman has a role for each one. The Missouri Kid (Burgess Meredith) is an aged coot who a long time ago was a skilled bank robber. Dudley Whinner (Hume Cronyn) and Cyrus McNutt (John Randolph) are failed con artists, just a bickering old married couple with Whinner the shrewd one. Floyd Moon (Warren Oates) is a backstabber from way back who has never had a friend. He begins to think Paris is one. Coy Cavendish (Michael Blodgett) is a dumb but eager teen-ager who is scheduled to hang for inadvertently killing the father of the girl he was about to know too well. Ah-Ping (C. K. Yang) is a big, tough, silent Chinese who decides to follow Pitman.

We spend a lot of time in that sweltering prison observing how Lopeman tries to improve things and how Pitman step by step organizes the breakout. There will be explosions, misdirection, food fights with fried chicken and mashed potatoes, stolen dynamite...and deliberate killings, cold-blooded and murderous set-ups, and sacrifices those doing the sacrificing hadn't planned on. You can't help grinning at the cynicism or being a little revolted at some of the cold-blooded murders.

Pitman, of course, escapes and heads for the place he hid his loot, a natural cave with an opening just small enough to reach down and snag the bags stuffed with cash. Did I mentioned, Pitman chose the place because it was a nesting ground for rattlers. After we have experienced the cold-blooded cynicism of one of the two leads, it's nice to report that the movie ends with a satisfyingly bit of good-natured cynicism on the part of the other.

The Region 1 DVD transfer looks just fine. There are a couple of extras with little interest. One is a featurette named On Location With There Was a Crooked Man. It seems to have been made at the time of the movie as a puff-piece promoting Michael Blodgett.

If you're a jaundiced observer of human nature, I think you'll enjoy this movie.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Jaundiced View of Humanity., 17 Jan. 2010
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like the celebrated director George Cukor, Joseph L Mankiewicz only made one western in his relatively short canon of films in the directors chair. Cukor's was the strangely appealing "Heller in Pink Tights"(60) whilst Mankiewicz has left us "There was a Crooked Man"(69). Cukor left a unique imprint on his film, as does Mankiewicz. Primarily Mankiewicz's virtues were literary. He wrote intelligent, sarcastic dialogue usually based on an ironic central figure which fits the bill nicely here. George Sanders in "All About Eve" and Bogart in "The Barefoot Contessa are both good examples of this. His handling of complex plots and flashbacks were always competently done. On the downside he was not always able to convey an emotional depth beneath the dialogue. Most of this applies to "There was a Crooked Man" which is a somewhat cynical offbeat comedy western.

In the film Douglas is well cast as the likeable rogue, and central character Paris Pitman, who is shown to have a very ruthless streak indeed. Douglas robs a wealthy man of his lifes savings, aided by his only too dispensible gang. Conveniently he is the only survivor and hides the loot, only to be caught in a brothel and incarcerated in a "hell hole" prison. This appears to have been based on the notorious desert prison Yuma. Pitman befriends others purely to use them as a means of escape. He enters a war of wits with the new prison governer, played by Henry Fonda, who plans to foil any escape attempt. We head to an explosive finale where there is a surprise twist.

Aside from Mankiewicz's acerbic and cynical script, the film does contain other virtues. It can certainly boast a strong cast. That fine actor Burgess Meredith turns up as an aging bank robber "The Missouri Kid". Warren Oates is also excellent as a willing dupe to Douglas's plans. It also good to see Alan Hale, old Casey Jones himself, still in harness. Fonda is, as always excellent, if strangely unfamiliar in his lengthy mormon like beard. Douglas was always good in the affable rogue role. In this one he is not so affable whilst shooting men in cold blood, and the film is a refreshing surprise for that. The war of wits is well played by the two main protaganists. Disappointingly, aside from being driven by greed, and lust in some instances, there is not much depth to the characters. It is perhaps just a little too cynical and knowing for my tastes. Sadly there is not a redeeming character to be found in the film. It is indeed a rather black view of humanity for my tastes. Be warned it is surprisingly candid at times, with the female form appearing in all its glory in brief moments. I have given it a generous four stars, as it scrapes into the 3.60 stars category.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN (1970), 30 Dec. 2008
This review is from: There Was a Crooked Man [DVD] [1970] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
The movie titles starts with the song " there was a crooked man ". Paris Pittman (Kirk Douglas) steels $500,000 from Mr Lomax and puts them in a saddle and 'Mama's' pants. He deposits the money in a hole full of rattle snakes. Pittman is caught and sentenced to 10 years in an isolated prison in the desert.
Sheriff Woodward Lopeman (Henry Fonda) arrest Floyd (Warren Oates), but gets shot in the leg. More cronies are sent to the prison. Lopeman asks for a job of new warden at that prison. Pittman and friends plan a jail break needing dynamite and rifles.
The movie is good in widescreen, but maybe a bit long. Will Pittman and friends be able to jail break? What is Lopeman thinking? Who will eventually get the money?
Watch and ENJOY. (ENGLAND. UK)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars There Was A Crooked Man, 26 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A very entertaining DVD that combines humour with the wild west . The DVD arrived in perfect condition, it was sold at a competitive price.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, 16 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: There Was a Crooked Man [DVD] [1970] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Just don't understand why it is not so well known, being a great and fun western story, with a great cast and incredibly good performances... a fantastic movie, don't miss it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars "There Was A Crooked Man (1970) ... Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Director) ... Warner Bros. (2006)", 12 Jan. 2011
By 
J. Lovins "Mr. Jim" (Missouri-USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: There Was a Crooked Man [DVD] [1970] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
Warner Bros. Pictures presents "THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN" (25 December 1970) (126 min/Color) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- An offbeat 1970s black-comic Western with an all-star cast, this Joseph L. Mankiewicz film is set in 1883 in Arizona. Paris Pitman, Jr. (Kirk Douglas) is the leader of a band of outlaws that steals $500,000 from a wealthy businessman named Lomax (Arthur O'Connell) --- The other gang members die in a shootout, but Pitman escapes and hides the loot in women's underwear and drops it into a snake pit --- After Lomax recognizes Pitman in a brothel, he is arrested by Sheriff Woodward Lopeman (Henry Fonda) --- At the territorial prison, Pitman bribes Warden Le Goff, offering him a share of the hidden money if he lets him escape --- But before the scheme is carried through, the warden is killed by a prisoner --- Lopeman becomes the new warden, and he is bent on ridding the prison of corruption --- Pitman convinces Lopeman that he will cooperate with the reforms, then he uses the new freedoms given to him to plan an elaborate escape with several other men --- The escape is to take place during an inspection by the governor.

The screen writing team for this film was Robert Benton and David Newman, who had penned the brilliant Bonnie and Clyde.

An excellent movie with a jaw-dropping cast (nice song sung by Trini Lopez)

Under the production staff of:
Joseph L. Mankiewicz [Director]
David Newman [Screenplay]
Robert Benton [Screenplay]
C.O. Erickson [Executive Producer]
Joseph L. Mankiewicz [Producer]
Charles Strouse [Original Music]
Harry Stradling Jr. [Cinematographer]
Gene Milford [Film Editor]
Edward Carrere [Production Design]

BIOS:
1. Joseph L. Mankiewicz [Director]
Date of Birth: 11 February 1909 - Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Date of Death: 5 February 1993 - Bedford, New York

2. Kirk Douglas [aka: Issur Danielovitch Demsky]
Date of Birth: 9 December 1916 - Amsterdam, New York
Date of Death: Still Living

3. Henry Fonda [aka: Henry Jaynes Fonda]
Date of Birth: 16 May 1905 - Grand Island, Nebraska
Date of Death: 12 August 1982 - Los Angeles, California

the cast includes:
Kirk Douglas - Paris Pitman, Jr.
Henry Fonda - Woodward W. Lopeman
Hume Cronyn - Dudley Whinner
Warren Oates - Floyd Moon
Burgess Meredith - The Missouri Kid
John Randolph - Cyrus McNutt
Lee Grant - Mrs. Bullard
Arthur O'Connell - Mr. Lomax

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 4 Stars
Performance: 4 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 4 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 126 min on DVD ~ Warner Bros. Pictures ~ (12/19/2006)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What A Disappointing Dog!, 14 Aug. 2014
By 
brian (Czech Republic) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm a fan of Westerns and have over 150 in my collection. I'd been waiting for years for this highly rated movie with Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda to become a) available for purchase and b) within reason price wise. When it barely hit b), I jumped.

Wow! What a disappointment! Starting with Kirk Douglas's industrial red weird hair dye. It's trying to be funny and cute and just doesn't cut it and for me it was only annoying. Save your money unless you already saw it and know it works for you.

If you're looking for great Westerns don't miss Ride Lonesome (1959) & The Tall T (1957) from director Budd Boetticher, Some good ones you might not have heard of: Stranger on Horseback (1955/Joel McCrea), The Violent Men (1955/Glenn Ford), Valdez is Coming (1970/Burt Lancaster), Stalking Moon (1968/Gregory Peck). Brian Tlougan, author: A-list: The Best in Cinema & TV, 2nd edition (2014)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

There Was a Crooked Man [DVD] [1970] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Used & New from: £26.98
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews