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Mitch Barrett becomes embittered because his wife is allowed to die when he can't pay for the medicine she needs. The remorseful townspeople hire Mitch to be a deputy sheriff, thereby enabling him to plot an elaborate bank robbery with the help of an artist, a pickpocket, a gunslinger and a bar-girl. In conjunction with the robbery, Mitch plans to avenge himself upon every man who hindered his purchase of a single bottle of medicine costing one dollar and eighty seven cents so many years ago. Written by
Alan Ladd's last western is this strange little item that did not get much play back in 1960, confined to second place on double bills. He should have done this one earlier when he was a much bigger box office name.
Ladd plays a settler traveling west and his wife comes down with some prairie malady. Going off to the nearest town he gets a prescription for a $1.87 worth of medicine. But then he runs afoul of some of the town louts and gets delayed long enough so that his wife sickens and dies.
The town fathers feel real sorry for him. In fact they feel so bad that they offer him the job of deputy sheriff. But when the sheriff dies and Ladd becomes sheriff it's the first step in an elaborate plan for revenge on the town. He hates each and every citizen of this place because of the death of wife Rachel Stephens.
Ladd puts together a gang in secret to rob the town bank at a proper moment when it's bulging with cash. Among others in his scheme are drunken cowboy Don Murray and working girl Dolores Michaels. Murray's part is very similar to the one he had the year before with James Cagney in Shake Hands With The Devil. In fact if you've seen that film, you know what happens in One Foot In Hell.
What could have been a great comeback role for Ladd goes for naught. I'm not sure it was his drinking at the time. More like it was wife Sue Carol who at this point was mismanaging his career. And face it, his day had past.
But next to what he was about to do over in Italy in Duel of the Champions, One Foot In Hell comes out like Stagecoach. It's not a bad film, as good as any of the B westerns that Audie Murphy was doing at this time. Still had he been 10 years younger and the film had been distributed differently, say with Paramount's studio power back in the day when he was their biggest star, One Foot In Hell could have been a classic.
As it is, it's not bad viewing. Note the script was by an up and coming television giant, Aaron Spelling.
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