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on 13 April 2005
Based on a Louis L'Amour book, the script of this made for cable film is marvelous; it's the substance that makes the characters come alive, and the performances so fine. Though very predictable, down to the very last shot, the words and the acting make this worthwhile viewing. Tom Selleck is superb as Rafe Covington, larger than life, a hero with principles and strength, who never misses his target, and is about as handsome as a man can be. He is backed by a great cast, with Virginia Madsen, one of Hollywood's most underrated actresses, perfect as the widow men want, either for love or what her ranch has to offer. Mark Harmon plays a slimy fellow who though he "has manners and smells nice", is pure greedy evil, and Wilford Brimley is terrific as Selleck's crusty old friend.
Filmed in Calgary, Alberta, the scenery and many horses are beautiful and David Eggby's cinematography makes the most of it, and Eric Colvin's atmospheric, melodic score adds so much to the film. Simon Wincer's direction is well paced (Wincer worked with Selleck in "Quigley Down Under"), but the bottom line is the script, by Charles Robert Carner, which is way above average for the genre, and being made for TV, is free of the foul language that has permeated films in this age, and makes it excellent family viewing.
Total running time is 95 minutes.
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Morality plays set in the Old West, a staple of my childhood on both television and in theaters, are hard to come by these days, so it's a treat when a half-way decent one comes along - like CROSSFIRE TRAIL. And there aren't too many living actors that can do a credible cowboy hero - Eastwood and Duvall come to mind. Luckily, this film has another excellent one of the genre, Tom Selleck.
CROSSFIRE TRAIL opens aboard a merchant vessel off the California coast in the 1870s. Rafe Covington (Selleck) is comforting a dying pal, beaten to death by the sadistic captain. After promising to look after the man's wife and ranch, and kicking the bandini out of the ship's master, we next see Rafe riding through the magnificent mountain scenery that is ostensibly Wyoming. Upon arrival at the ranch, Rafe finds the place deserted. In the nearby town, Covington discovers the widow, Ann Rodney (Virginia Madsen), under the benevolent spell of smooth talkin' Bruce Barkow (Mark Harmon), the local VIP who holds the mortgage on the ranch and pretty much rules the local rubes with his band of armed good ol' boys. (Where have we seen this before? SHANE, PALE RIDER, and THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.) Barkow is more suave and better dressed than most villains of the ilk. As Rafe notes, Ann likes Bruce because "he has manners and smells nice". In any case, the Wider Rodney doesn't believe Rafe's version of events, but accepts Barkow's story that her husband was killed by Injuns on his way back from San Francisco. It's quite obvious that Barkow covets Ann and her land, which has pools of oil on it. The conflict is, of course, between Covington and Barkow, and the hired pistolero that the latter imports from, of all places, Kansas. (SHANE and PALE RIDER also had pistol packin' hit men.)
Because the plot of CROSSFIRE TRAIL offered no surprises at all, I was tempted to award only three stars. However, playing the stolid, principled and reluctant gunfighter is Selleck's forte, and he does it as well as The Duke, Alan Ladd, or Gary Cooper ever did. Harmon is particularly oily as the charming Barkow, and there's a crusty performance by the aging Wilford Brimley, one of my favorite character actors, as Joe, Ann's ex-ranch hand. And it was good to see Barry Corbin as Barkow's toady Sheriff Moncrieff. (Corbin was Chris Cooper's deputy in LONESOME DOVE.) So, I'm awarding a reluctant four stars.
The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, and mated to an uplifting score. I was all set to saddle-up for Wyoming when the credits rolled and informed me that the film was shot in Calgary, Alberta, and at the Western Studio and Backlot, which, according to its website, is 35 minutes west of the city. Hummph! Pretty soon they'll be pretending it's Tombstone's OK Corral with Mt. Fuji in the background. At least SHANE had the Grand Tetons.
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on 3 May 2017
enjoyable very different from the book but that is expected a watchable light enterteainment!!
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on 6 January 2010
Rafe Covington(Tom Sellack)fulfilling a promise to a dying man heads to Wyoming to tend to the deceased's ranch and look after his widow Ann Rodney(Virginia Madsen).However he finds the widow in the clutches of a saloon proprietor(Mark Harmon)who intends to have both the ranch and the widow for himself.
Kitchen sink western from a veteran of the genre Simon Wincer rattles along entertainingly enough with wonderful scenery(Alberta,Canada doubling for Wyoming),that wily old scene stealer Wilford Brimley and Tom Sellack who does this sort of thing in his sleep and rather well at that.
Thank goodness for the aforementioned beacuse Harmon is a little wishy washy as chief villian,Madsen seems uncomfortable throughout and the Queen Mother would have made a more convincing stone cold killer than Brad Johnson(a poor man's Tom Berenger).
A good ending though keeps everything nice and tidy.
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on 6 January 2009
I'm not certain how author Louis L'Amour is now looked upon by critics of the American West, but if this film version is anything to go by then it would appear that he never let accuracy get in the way of a story. For example, it's supposed to be 1880 and Red Cloud was already a reservation Indian and, therefore, not really a threat - he wasn't one of the leaders at the Battle of Little Big Horn. Furthermore, by this time, the Indian wars of the plains were over, the last major battles had occurred in 1877.

However, this is a very entertaining movie, but you never feel that Tom Selleck's character is under any real danger. You just know that he is going to get the girl in the end. Even though a sharp shooting Brad Johnson arrives to even up the odds, Selleck's character just isn't really troubled - he's too cool to be believable.

Of the three Westerns he has made of late, Monte Walsh (my favourite)and Last Stand at Saber River, this is somewhere in between the two of them. Mark Harmon's cheesy bad guy is a bit predictable too, although he seems to be having a lot of fun playing a hissing villain.

As other reviewers have noted, the scenary is stunning, shot in Canada, and Simon Wincer does a grand job by directing some zest into a well-worn storyline. Overall, good, but a bullet or two short of a six shooter.
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on 11 February 2004
Tom Selleck plays the drifter Rafe Covington in this respectful adaptation of the Louis L'Amour novel Crossfire Trail, presented by Turner Network Television. A romantic Western, Crossfire Trail follows Rafe as he struggles to honor his vow to a dying friend to protect his wife and daughter and their Wyoming homestead. Virginia Madsen plays the widow who questions Rafe's intentions and unwittingly sides with the bad guys headed by land owner Bruce Barkow (Mark Harmon). The film was directed by Simon Wincer, who also paired with Selleck on 1990's Quigley Down Under. The film also stars Wilford Brimley, Brad Johnson, Patrick Kilpartrick, and Barry Corbin.
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on 8 September 2008
Well, i saw this film a few years ago, and am glad i finally added it to my collection. This is his best so far, scenery is amazing from the ship to the ranch, lots to see and take in. As usual, the costumes and kit is second to none.

Every character has a good part to play in moving the film along to its climax, the story keeps you along for the ride and there are no let-ups in the dialogue.

Fans of Sam Elliot will love this film!
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on 1 December 2012
This is a great western. All the elements of a traditional western are present.The hero who arrives to protect a beautiful widow,the old timer,the smooth villan, the hired gunslick ,the faithful sidekicks(even throw in a few native americans)-it's all in this beautifully photgraphed film.The story is simplistic as with all great westerns and the protagonists are clearly defined.This does not mean that the characters are one-dimensional,far from it.Tom Selleck was born to play these roles.You will not be bored by this wonderful example of the western genre.Comparable to Kevin Costner's OPEN RANGE
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on 3 July 2013
The DVD is excellent,I recommend it,it is worth every penny a very good story.Tom Selleck makes the film and the action is great.
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on 5 February 2014
great film with a strong cast always enjoy tom selleck in any film ther are no other words to describe this actor
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