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There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)

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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 2,290 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 17 critic

A charming but totally ruthless criminal is sent to a remote Arizona prison. He enlists the help of his cellmates in an escape attempt with the promise of sharing his hidden loot.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Paris Pitman, Jr.
...
Woodward W. Lopeman
...
Dudley Whinner
...
Floyd Moon
...
The Missouri Kid
...
Cyrus McNutt
...
Mrs. Bullard
...
Mr. Lomax
...
Warden LeGoff
...
Coy Cavendish
C.K. Yang ...
Ah-Ping
...
Tobaccy (as Alan Hale)
...
Whiskey
Claudia McNeil ...
Madam
...
Skinner
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Storyline

Charm, intelligence and success in criminal career doesn't prevent Paris Pitman Jr. to start doing ten years in prison, in the middle of the Arizona desert. However, those years should pass quickly because of a $500,000 loot previously stashed away. New idealistic warden would only make Pitman think of getting his fortune even sooner. He starts to manipulate everyone to achieve his goal. Written by Dragan Antulov <dragan.antulov@altbbs.fido.hr>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

arizona | prison | desert | escape | warden | See more »

Taglines:

Once upon a time, there was a crooked man. When he was good, he was very, very good. And when he was bad, it was murder...


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

25 December 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Zwei dreckige Halunken  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "enormous" dressing trailer for Kirk Douglas stood just outside the location's prison set. Reportedly, it had a white picket fence, a mailbox, two flower boxes and a green lawn planted in front with a water fountain and lounge chairs. See more »

Goofs

After escaping from prison, Pitman visits the widow Bullard and leaves the prison mule in her corral and takes a horse. After being bitten by the snake and dying, the warden takes his body back on the horse he rode, which now is a mule again. See more »

Quotes

Paris Pittman Jr.: [Entering with a mask intending to rob the family] Ah, nothing like fried chicken while it's still hot and crispy! So the quicker you open that safe and give us the money, the quicker you can get back to that tasty-looking chicken.
See more »

Connections

Edited into La classe américaine (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

Abide with Me
(uncredited)
Word by Henry F. Lyte (1847)
Music by William Monk 1861
Version sung by Hume Cronyn.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Judgment of Paris
14 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is an interesting black comedy, from Joseph Mankiewicz, about the gullibility of man, and how greed can corrupt anyone. Henry Fonda is a lawman, in typical Fonda-style (before WARLOCK and the spaghetti westerns changed his image). He is a firm support for law and order. However, he has been shot and left lame by Warren Oates, a drunken outlaw. He may have to retire as a result sooner than he expected.

At the start of the film we watch how Kirk Douglas (Paris Pitman) has robbed the home of Arthur O'Connor with his gang. They are killed off in one way or another. Pitman escapes with the money, and hides it in a hole full of rattlesnakes. But later he is captured. Pitman is sent to territorial prison, where he meets Oates, Burgess Meredith (as the legendary Missouri Kid), Hume Cronym and John Randolph (a pair of swindlers who are also a gay couple), and others. The warden is Martin Gabel, who soon makes it clear that if Douglas wants to be out sooner he needs the warden as a partner. But in a riot Gabel is killed, and Fonda is appointed the new warden.

Fonda tries to reform the prison, improving facilities and setting up an honor system. Douglas, the total cynic, sneers at all this, and makes his own plans. He is not going to rot for two decades or so in prison while a fortune awaits for him. So he starts plotting to get out, and Fonda keeps watching to counter his plotting.

I won't add anything else, but in the end one wonders if Paris Pitman's view of mankind is the truth of us all or not. The film has wonderful sharp comedy, including the comic put-downs of Cronyn when undercutting the pompous Randolph, and when one sees scenes like Burgess Meredith taking his first bath. I strongly recommend this film to fans of unusual westerns.


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