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4.4 out of 5 stars20
4.4 out of 5 stars
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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
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 May 2014
Shame that this film as been released in 4.3 letterbox. the print looks good but why couldn't 101 films have given it 16.9 release.
I hope there other releases coming up are not going to be let down by format issues.
Could have been a great dvd , but not the case, buyers beware.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
What an excellent release by 101 Films of this worthy 1958 Audie Murphy western vehicle. This one is lifted considerably by the talented Borden Chase's imaginative script, liberally sprinkled with moments of good humour. Chase was famous for providing the scripts to the fabled westerns "Winchester 73"(50) and "Red River"(48). This one is adapted from a George Bruce story that has an exuberant Clair Huffaker feel to it, making it similar in tone and feel to the excellent "Seven Ways From Sundown"(60). In this film Audie Murphy plays `on the run' bank robber Joe Maybe, who is mistaken for the legendary US Marshall Jim Noonan when he hits town. Initially more interested in robbing the local bank, his conscience is pricked by the kindness of the townspeople. A poor state of mind for any self respecting bank robber! The plot provides for enough action to stop you dozing off in the armchair!

Aside from an unusually strong script for a minor western, the film is also lifted by the inspired offbeat casting. Walter Matthau puts on a syrupy thick accent and does a sort of Judge Roy Bean, only law west of the Pecos impression as Judge Kyle, who aside from presiding at the local court house is happy to strap on a six shooter and deal with problems at source. His performance is way over the top, but hugely enjoyable none the less! Then there is that mercurial talent Henry Silva appearing early in his career and serving his bad guy apprenticeship with great aplomb. Even when the man smiled he seemed to reek evil! The Italian actress Gia Scala, silent but deadly in "The Guns of Navarone", is also oddly cast as Murphy's love interest. The familiar and reassuring features of Leo Gordon also make a welcome appearance.

The film is briskly directed by Jesse Hibbs, a former US footballer with USC, who played in the same 1926 team as a certain Marion Morrison, who later became rather better known as John Wayne. Hibbs also made the excellent "Ride Clear of Diablo"(54) and Murphy's autobiographical work "To Hell and Back"(55), so he is a director who should not be dismissed lightly. Murphy always seemed to perform better when he had some beefed up support. He appeared to feed off of Matthau's aura as he did with Dan Duryea and Barry Sullivan in other films. Clearly he learned from those fine actors and got better over the years. The film is good to look at with the Universal backlot featuring heavily. Shot in a striking Cinemascope colour it has a freshly painted Dulux gloss to it! These sort of films seem to cope with the ravages of age rather better than most! Admittedly the old Damascus road route from baddie to goody goody has been used umpteen times, but there is enough originality here to override that! This film has all the high quality ingredients to provide fine dining for the discerning western fan!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 November 2014
Am I alone in wondering why 101 have released this in a reduced Scope occupying the 4.3 screen, requiring the viewer to use the Aspect Ratio button to bring it up to (dare I say) correct screen size. It can be done of course but why should we have to? No one else seems to have commented... The film? It's a lovely unusual Western in that most of it takes place in a very big studio township that really looks different and lived/worked in. Murphy is just as you want/expect him to be and he is ably supported(?) by Matthau and Silva with Gia Scala decorating the scenery. The rest of the support cast are good western characters though some are wasted. Mort Mills has a good scene, but Morgan Woodward, Rayford Barnes and Henry Wills are a bit wasted. The much underappreciated Frank Chase is great as a feisty deputy (he reminds me a bit of Cagney), but Joanna Moore has a thankless role, as does the legendary Leo Gordon. 90 mins of good western fun and apart from my comment at the begginning the transfer is good, but you do lose just that tiny bit of clarity when you enlarge the picture. However...Recomended to Murphy/Western fans.Oh and Jesse Hibbs directs well.
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on 3 June 2015
always enjoyed audie murphys films.even though they all seem to be taken off the same one,s.
w lester
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on 5 December 2015
A very good film and one of the best of Audie Murphy's films. well done team, a great buy.
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on 27 August 2015
DVD fine but slow delivery
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on 29 May 2016
GOOD STORY GOOD D.V.D.
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on 12 February 2016
good film I enjoyed it
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on 6 September 2011
I was pleased with the service in that the item took less than a week to be delivered it is an excellent copy which i have enjoyed watching
11 comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

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