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What Appears To Be A Natural For Film Conversion Proves Not To Be So.
Popular fiction writer Elmore Leonard has hammered out a number of rather simplistic Western novels, of which one, "Law at Randado", is utilized as basis for this heavy handed adaptation, with the original apparently being tailor-made for a feature film since it is principally propelled by action and dialogue in lieu of any alternate emphasis upon psychologic insight, of which there is none. However, director Chris McIntyre's screenplay is constructed with a surfeit of plot threads, and this failing, in combination with some unfortunate casting choices, and a plot line full of flaws in logic and continuity, lowers the work to the point of its being a confused and unintended pastiche of the Western cinema genre, certainly a boon for stuntmen but a seemingly endless bore for a sentient viewer. Leonard's tale focuses upon the activities of protagonist Kirby Frye, played here by seventh billed Cody Glenn, including his efforts to perform his duties as deputy sheriff for an imaginary southwestern U.S. border town, a post he has assumed only with reluctance, but McIntyre's undistinguished additions to the story are merely weakened by his own erratic direction, while choppy post-production editing accentuates the dreary affair's lack of cohesion, apt to leave a viewer asea when trying to locate a rationale behind most sequences. Cinematographer Dennis Dalzell's inventive efforts with his camera, essentially the only tolerable aspect of the film, make appropriate use of the Western flavoured settings, shot in Arizona and Burbank, California, but in general this work is but a pale shadow of Leonard's piece that is itself but a heavily denatured example of the Western school of fiction. The film becomes increasingly more slapdash as it moves along, with a strong quality of the ridiculous marking a great deal of the often risible dialogue, a favourite line being read by Charlene Tilton, performing as a married doxy who spends most of her screen time struggling with an off the shoulder blouse, never seeming able to adjust it either off or on enough to her satisfaction. In a climactic scene, wherein her character entreats for exoneration by her cuckolded husband, she describes him thus to others present: "Haig might not have had two nickels to rub together when he met me, but he spent those two nickels on me.", thereby matching the film's extensive array of visual non-sequiters. Among the players propelled in and out of the narrative is Glenn Ford, in his middle seventies and top billed for obvious marketing purposes, but in reality filling a supporting role as sheriff of Randado, plainly too old and stiff-jointed for the part, while being awkwardly edited out and replaced by a stuntman during an action scene wherein the sheriff quells four tough rivals.
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