Odd little Western that gets off to a snappy start when a man (Matt Dow) is mistaken as a train robber. After the town's sheriff shoots the kid he's riding with, Dow clears his name and ends up as the new sheriff. He romances a Swedish woman and settles in to a peaceful life only to find that the boy has a few secrets of his own.Written by
In the soundtrack in Spanish --in Spain distribution, at least-- the Swensons are throughout referred to as Swiss people, and their country of origin as Switzerland. See more »
Why don't you stop feeling sorry for yourself? You think you're the only one in the world ever got a raw deal... There's a lot of people in this world who've had a tougher time than you or me. It comes with the ticket. Nobody guarantees you a free ride. The only difference is, most people don't run for cover. They keep right on going, picking up the pieces the best way they can. But you never hear of them. It's the ones who can't take it, like you - the ones looking for a free ride - who cause ...
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Cagney as sheriff, Lindfors stiff, and Ray obviously on an off day in this mediocre drama
Run for Cover (1955)
The first reason to see this is the simple fact it's a Nicholas Ray movie. Ray didn't direct many movies, but among those few are some of the best--or at least my favorites--in the whole history of Hollywood. "They Live by Night" and "In a Lonely Place" are moving and interesting masterpieces, and "Johnny Guitar" is completely bizarre and original and a wild ride. Only slightly less interesting to me but more iconic is "Rebel without a Cause," made the same year as this one.
"Run for Cover" is an awkward fit, a Western by a director of mostly urban dramas. James Cagney isn't really cast wrong, per se, because he's presented as an outsider in this typical rough frontier town, but he comes off a little superficial, using his razor fast approach as an end rather than a means. And I think this is because the story is weak. It sounds good on paper, but it unfolds a little obviously, with some filler and some seemingly requisite but boring views of beautiful landscapes. There are gunfights, a run-in with Indians, and deception. It's a story without emotional subtlety and Ray is best a peeling back layers in human interaction, not just showing the action.
Even the interesting Viveca Lindfors (who originally led me to the movie after seeing her in "Backfire," is oddly stiff, doubly odd because she's a Swedish immigrant playing a Swedish immigrant. You get the feeling she was never a poor farmer back home.
I don't mean to pile on criticisms, but it's worth saying that the direction isn't good, either. The filming is dull, there are a couple of odd moments like when a big log suddenly appears in the river to save someone, and sometimes the cuts don't match one to the next. I'm guessing there's a deeper story to the awkwardness here, but all we have is the awkwardness.
Not that it's a disaster. I watched the whole thing, and the key theme of being honorable even when being misunderstood is good. And a really nasty deception (or plain old ingratitude) is pulled off right before our eyes, more than once.. The filming location seems to be Colorado rather than California or Arizona (as many Westerns are), and that gives it a different feel. And there is a short section (out of nowhere) shot in an ancient Indian ruin in New Mexico, with good atmospherics. Plug your ears to some of the overdone music, and let the plot ride off a little on its own and there's a good chance you'll like a lot of this movie.
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