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After robbing a bank Murphy assumes the identity of his pursuer, a famous US Marshal, when he stumbles into a town and is confronted by the local judge, Matthau. Murphy is forced to remain as the new Marshal; an old flame, Scala, nearly unmasks him by accident, only to be forced to assume the ruse of being Murphy's wife. The "couple" given a house and respectability, which neither has had before. They maintain the charade to avoid hurting a young orphan boy, Matthau's ward. Scala is torn by her loyalty to boyfriend planning to rob the bank and growing feelings for Murphy. Written by
Teeler is interested in that bank, and so am I. When I learn how this town works, he'll ride in with ten men, and do what you'd like to do.
You're still talkin' about the bank?
When you write to Teeler, tell him I got here first. And I'm not just talkin' about the bank!
See more »
Ride a Crooked Trail is directed by Jesse Hibbs and adapted to screenplay by Borden Chase from a story written by George Bruce. It stars Audie Murphy, Walter Matthau, Gia Scala, Leo Gordon, Henry Silva and Eddie Little. A CinemaScope/Eastman Color production, music is by Joseph Gershenson and cinematography by Harold Lipstein.
A blend of the breezy and the beefy here as Audie saddles up as Joe Maybe, a bank robber who after assuming the identity of the detective who was sent to capture him, winds up as the sheriff of a corrupt town. Ironically it's the town he and his dastardly cohorts had planned for their next big robbery. But as Joe insinuates himself into the company of the town's better citizens, he begins to doubt his dark side.
It's pretty routine as per the bad man trying to turn good axis of Western movie plotting, but there's a good sense of fun running throughout. Murphy himself seems to really be enjoying himself in the role of Joe Maybe. Leading the front of frivolity is Matthau as the town judge, his capacity for alcohol is as legendary as his ability to find a quip or sarcasm in the most trying of situations. Many of the scenes shared between the two men are most funny, be it hangovers, court room shenanigans or generally sounding each other out, they make for a great pair of characters.
Of course all this good fun has to ease off for the plot to take its darker turn. Which brings in the villains and the action scenes just as Joe's conscience starts to gnaw away at him. Costuming is appealing, especially when modelled by Scala, Gershenson provides another one of his lively Western musical scores and Lipstein's Scope photography makes good use of the gorgeous scenery. It's a bit creaky in parts and Hibbs sometimes lets the pace sag, but this is good entertainment for Audie and Matthau fans. 6.5/10
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