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Along the Great Divide (1951)

Approved | | Adventure, Romance, Western | 2 June 1951 (USA)
A U.S. Marshall and two deputies rescue a cattle rustler from a lynch mob led by a local cattle baron convinced that the rustler also killed his son.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Billy Shear
...
Timothy 'Pop' Keith
...
Deputy Lou Gray
Hugh Sanders ...
Frank Newcombe
Morris Ankrum ...
Ed Roden
James Anderson ...
Dan Roden
Charles Meredith ...
Judge Marlowe
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Storyline

New Federal marshal Len Merrick saves Tim Keith from lynching at the hands of the Roden clan, and hopes to get him to Santa Loma for trial. Vindictive Ned Roden, whose son Ed was killed, still wants personal revenge, and Tim would like to escape before Ned catches up with him again. Can the marshal make it across the desert with Tim and his daughter? Even if he makes it, will justice be served? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

AN ADVENTURE THAT AVALANCHES FROM THE BULLET-PROOF ROOF OF THE ROCKIES TO THE FIERY DESERT FLOOR! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

2 June 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Travelers  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Both Morris Ankrum and Kenneth MacDonald would go on to play recurring judges on the Perry Mason TV series. See more »

Quotes

Timothy 'Pop' Keith: [In the midst of singing "Down in the Valley"] I never thought I'd be singin' my way to my own trial.
Marshal Len Merrick: [Painfully listening to him continue to sing] Mister, they're trying you for the wrong crime.
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Connections

Remade as Cheyenne: The Travelers (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

Down in the Valley
(uncredited)
(a.k.a. "Birmingham Jail")
Traditional American folk song
Sung by Walter Brennan and Virginia Mayo
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User Reviews

 
My name's Merrick. I'm United States Marshal here.
15 December 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Along the Great Divide is directed by Raoul Walsh and written by Walter Doniger and Lewis Meltzer. It stars Kirk Douglas, Virginia Mayo, John Agar, Walter Brennan, Ray Teal, James Anderson and Morris Ankrum. Music is by David Buttolph and cinematography by Sidney Hickox.

U.S. Marshall Len Merrick (Douglas) and two deputies rescue suspected murderer Tim Keith (Brennan) from a lynch mob led by a local cattle baron who is convinced that Keith killed his son. The lawmen embark on a hazardous journey across the rugged terrains, determined to get Keith to Santa Loma for a fair trial...

Kirk Douglas' first Western is something of an undervalued treat. It was a film he didn't enjoy making, where working out in the desert with Raoul Walsh proved something of a cross to bear. Yet the director got a very good turn out of Douglas, allowing the actor to put down a marker in the genre that would serve him well throughout his career.

It sits very much in the psychological Western realm, a fact that some critics of the time failed to grasp - since complaints about not being a standard Oater were floated about! It really shouldn't have surprised anyone given that Douglas had already made a handful of superb film noir pictures, he was surely cast for this pic on the strength of his noir characters.

There's big father issues abound in the whole film, the various strands keeping the narrative edgy. Merrick is a damaged man, and his companions that make up the group will all test his metal to the max. Not just for father issues, and a lack of water, but also via the presence of Keith's daughter, Ann (Mayo), who mercifully isn't just a token female dressage character (she's feisty with believable emotional outpourings). It's a fraught journey for many reasons and Walsh, notwithstanding cheesing Douglas off, keeps it deftly wound tight.

The surroundings offer more troublesome discord to envelope the characters. Shot in gorgeous black and white by Hickox, the Alabama Hills and Mojave Desert locales provide barren landscapes that are juxtaposed with threatening looking rock formations. This often at times feels like an Anthony Mann/James Stewart landscape, which is high praise indeed. While the cast can't be faulted as they bring the drama to life, benefiting from the fine research of writers Doniger and Meltzer.

Undeniably the film's major drawback is the lack of whodunit worth. The pic unfortunately plays its hand far too early in this respect, meaning we know who the killer is. This could have lessened the excitement at story end, damagingly so, but we are never sure if we are going to be party to an Ox-Bow Incident or otherwise. This is well worth seeking out for fans of psychological Westerns, the many Oedipal themes and the scorching landscapes ensure it's a tasty little number. 8/10


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