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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
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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 <email@example.com>
Twelve rattlesnakes were used for a key scene but failed to hiss on cue. The hissing had to be dubbed in during post-production. See more »
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 »
[as Paris is leaving the room]
Why do you work at it so hard proving to yourself you're a sonuvabitch?
Paris Pittman Jr.:
[Stopping and turning]
Because I am. It's my profession , and I'm on top.
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Kirk Douglas plays a very amoral and scheming bandit. For a while, this lifestyle pays off until he is ultimately captured and placed in an awful prison in the middle of the desert. At first, this is a real tough stay for Kirk as the warden is a greedy cuss and he tries to abuse Kirk into revealing where he hid $500,000 in stolen loot. But, after the warden is killed, a new guy takes over (Henry Fonda) and he and Douglas develop a certain level of respect for each other--all the while Kirk is planning his escape. As for Fonda and his motivation for befriending Kirk goes, this is all very vague until very late in the film--and I think this made for a better film.
In addition to these two terrific actors, there are some wonderful supporting performances--especially by Hume Cronin and John Randolph who seemed an awful lot like a married couple! About the only negatives were a few places where the script seemed ridiculous (such as the escape from the prison--they took their time and it sure looked too easy).
I enjoyed this Kirk Douglas film quite a bit and I was torn between giving it a 7 and an 8. My final decision to give it a 7 was because some of the nudity and language seemed rather gratuitous and was inserted less for artistic reasons than to satisfy the new 1960s and 70s morality. There are just a few too many butts and breasts to make it a good bet for most kids--and it's a shame, because otherwise it's a dandy film.
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