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A frontiersman in 1820s Kentucky finds the area too civilized for his tastes, so he makes plans for he and his son to leave for the wild Texas country. However, he buys an indentured servant along the way, and her presence throws a monkey wrench into his plans. Written by
Burt Lancaster applied for membership in the Screen Directors Guild in August 1954 but was rejected "because he allegedly had expressed opinions about directors regarded as uncomplimentary by the organization." The guild granted Lancaster a waiver to allow him to direct the film and invited him to reapply after it was completed. See more »
At the beginning, Eli is sitting near a campfire. We can clearly see its flames, showing it is still burning. When Eli stands up, the flames has disappeared, even we haven't see him extinguishing the fire. See more »
Burt Lancaster stars and directs himself in minor western...
BURT LANCASTER stars as THE KENTUCKIAN who has a yearning to go where the grass is greener and wants to leave Kentucky for a new life in Texas with his young son in tow. DIANA LYNN is a pretty schoolteacher at the schoolhouse cabin and DIANNE FOSTER is the other female lead, an indentured servant, with a yen for Lancaster.
Good supporting roles for WALTER MATTHAU (making his screen debut) and JOHN CARRADINE. JOHN LITEL makes a welcome appearance as a riverboat man, but the story lacks a strong enough plot to maintain interest in the rather pedestrian proceedings. Filmed in widescreen color and CinemaScope, it looks as though a lavish budget has been expended on a tiresome script.
Fortunately, the film picks up interest toward the last fifteen minutes when Lancaster and his son have to defend themselves against badman Matthau and his cohorts. There's also a confrontational bullwhip scene with Matthau and Lancaster that is well staged and effective.
But the story is rather trite and there's nothing special about Lancaster's performance or his direction. I would have preferred a more appealing youngster for Young Eli than DONALD MacDONALD who walks through his role without ever inhabiting it.
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