Thursday, Oct 2020
Director: Raoul Walsh
Length: 88 mins
Released: 1951 B & W

along the great divideKirk plays a determined and dedicated US Marshall here, a tough pioneer in bringing law to the West. The film starts out with him breaking up some vigilante ranchers who are trying to hang a rustler -- Brennan -- they believe has killed their son/brother. Kirk imposes his lawful authority upon the hanging and declares that he'll bring Walter Brennan to trial himself. The patriarch of the rancher clan swears he'll kill Brennan himself -- law be damned. So a chase ensues. As determined as he is, Kirk has a hell of a time bringing WB to trial. WB's loving daughter -- Virginia Mayo -- tries to break him free. On the endless ride to trial Kirk faces WB's psychological tormenting, Virginia Mayo's deceptive seductions, mutiny from his deputies, attacks by the Ranchers, and unforgiving desert conditions. Kirk won't judge WB prematurely or harshly -- he insists on letting the law do that. His duty is tough because he is the only one standing for the law out there. His character is a decent man, his dedication to his job, his fairness and support for his deputies are all revealed. He has a troubled past which follows him, though, a mysterious personal history, and the movie features some psychology like Pursued, but without the overall noir elements. There is a battle with the pursuing ranchers at one point. It is a good western gunfight/battle. It seems that these Westerns are often like little War Movies, with various bands of folks plotting against one another, strategizing and fighting.

The movie carries a theme about the love and bonds between parents and children, ties that even the harsh conditions of the West cannot break. . . .

Kirk Douglas is good in his first Western, and Walter Brennan is excellent as well. Virginia Mayo is inexplicably cross-eyed. The story is sufficiently gripping with plenty of plot twists and alterations of alliances. This is definitely a Good View and quite possibly a Must See, but not a Classic.

--Jed

Cast:

  • Kirk Douglas....Marshal Len Merrick
  • Virginia Mayo....Ann Keith
  • John Agar....Billy Shear
  • Walter Brennan....Tim 'Pop' Keith
  • Ray Teal....Deputy Lou Gray
  • Hugh Sanders....Sam Weaver
  • Morris Ankrum....Ned Roden
  • James Anderson ....Dan Roden
  • Charles Meredith ....Judge Marlowe
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