Join us as we offer Live Tweet commentary for two classic westerns June 15.
This weekend, we’re saddling up again with the Turner Classic Movies outfit to Live Tweet a pair of outstanding westerns: Ride the High Country (1962), Sam Peckinaph’s classic drama starring Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea (pictured above) as aging friends who have very different agendas when they sign on to transport a gold shipment; and There Was a Crooked Man… (1970), the only western ever directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve, A Letter to Three Wives), starring Kirk Douglas as a wily bandit who pretends to turn over a new leaf under the watchful eye of a warden played by Henry Fonda.
We invite you to join us Saturday, June 15, on Twitter — where we’ll be sporting the hashtag #ciTCMWesterns — at 4 pm ET/3 pm CT for Ride the High Country, and 5:45 pm ET/4:45 pm CT for There Was a Crooked Man… on TCM.
Marietta Hartley, James Drury, Edgar Buchanan and L.Q. Jones are among the supporting players in Peckinpah’s film, which has McCrea cast as Steve Judd, an ex-lawman who hopes to regain his self-respect by transporting gold from a high country mining camp to the California town of Hornitos. To carry out the job, Judd enlists the aid of an old friend and former partner, Gil Westrum (Scott), who currently runs a scam passing himself off as a legendary sharpshooter in a carnival sideshow. Gil agrees to help, and brings along his young sidekick, Heck Longtree (Ron Starr).
Unfortunately, the three men are distracted from their task by the plight of a young woman (Hartley) whose fiancé (Drury) is a scurrilous drunk who plans to “share” her with his brothers. Even more unfortunately, Gil and Heck plot to steal the gold shipment — even though they can’t convince Steve to join them on their fall from grace. Taking his cue from Luke 18: 9-14, Steve insists: “All I want is to enter my house justified.”
Henry Fonda strikes an equally righteous note throughout most of There Was a Crooked Man… as Woodward W. Lopeman, an idealistic sheriff who assumes the role of reformer after being hired as warden at an Arizona desert prison. Lopeman improves harsh conditions at the institution, as part of a program to rehabilitate even seemingly incorrigible inmates like Paris Pitman Jr. (Douglas), a smooth-talking outlaw who killed his partners, and hid $500,000 in stolen loot, before his capture. Pitman appreciates Lopeman’s good intentions — but only because the warden may inadvertently make it easier for him to escape and retrieve his ill-gotten gain.
There Was a Crooked Man… was written by Bonnie and Clyde scripters Robert Benton and David Newman — who later co-wrote Bad Company, the 1972 western that marked Benton’s directorial debut — and co-stars Warren Oates, Martin Gabel, Hume Cronyn, Burgess Meredith and, fleetingly, Oscar-winner Lee Grant as a sexy widow who offers shelter, among other things, to the roguish Pittman.