A murderous western outlaw, his wife, a disgraced gambler and a faded dance hall floozie and a few other socially undesirable characters are trapped in a snowbound mountain cabin. As the ...
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A murderous western outlaw, his wife, a disgraced gambler and a faded dance hall floozie and a few other socially undesirable characters are trapped in a snowbound mountain cabin. As the chances for rescue fade, the true natures of the cabin's occupants rise to the surface.
Outcasts led by Dale Robertson contend with vicious Cameron Mitchell
"The Outcasts of Poker Flat" (1952) is a noir and western, listed as such by noir critic Andrew Spicer but not by John Grant.
Cameron Mitchell is excellent in this one, playing a vicious bank robber and murderer. He's married to Anne Baxter, who comes to hate him. She and Dale Robertson, a gambler and loner, come together involuntarily when they are cast out of the town of Poker Flats along with Miriam Hopkins and Billy Lynn.
The story soon takes us into a snowbound cabin in which the principals are isolated, with Mitchell taking over. Craig Hill and soon-to-be and pregnant wife Barbara Bates round out the main cast. The situation inside the cabin is tense and grim.
The people in this story are mostly struggling to carve out some happiness in a world where the cards they've been dealt are not obviously winning hands. They're not defeated but they're weary. They hang on to their hopes. It's Anne Baxter's spirit that seeks to overcome Robertson's withdrawal. The half-crazed Lynn has almost retreated into a world of his own. Hopkins has memories of past conquests, hoping to rekindle them in San Francisco. Hill and Bates could not be married for lack of a preacher. Mitchell has drive, but it's directed against others for the sole sake of his own gratifications and survival.
Combine this with the dark cinematography of Joseph LaShelle and the direction of Joseph M. Newman and you have a noir-western. Newman at this point already had noirs "Abandoned", "711 Ocean Drive" and "Lucky Nick Cain" behind him.
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