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Joseph H. Lewis
A dark and cynical meditation on fear, obsession and personal honour.
At first glance a rather ordinary thriller with a disillusioned cop (Barry Sullivan - pretty good) chasing an escaped con (Vittorio Gassman) deep into the swamps of Louisiana. However, delve a little deeper and you find a dark and cynical meditation on fear, obsession and personal honour.
Unlike The Fugitive' this con is guilty but his crime, although serious, barely gets a mention. The script instead concentrates on the two protagonists and their similarities. Although on different sides of the law, both believe in family and personal honour and cannot compromise their beliefs. Both suffer as a result.
The justice system is portrayed as idle(a Prison Warden only interested in golf), bigoted (a Southern Sheriff who pre-dates In the Heat of the Night') or just plain nasty (William Conrad scoring well as the cop's partner.)
On the down side, the female roles are seriously underwritten (virtuous wife & bayou trash hellcat) and the resolution is implausibly upbeat.
Overall, however, a good B' thriller of its' day, surprisingly violent in places. Director Joseph H Lewis made better movies (Gun Crazy', The Big Combo') but this one still begs the question; How in hell did someone so talented end up making episodes of Rifleman'& 'The Big Valley'?!'
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