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There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)

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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:
Kirk Douglas ... Paris Pitman, Jr.
Henry Fonda ... Woodward W. Lopeman
Hume Cronyn ... Dudley Whinner
Warren Oates ... Floyd Moon
Burgess Meredith ... The Missouri Kid
John Randolph ... Cyrus McNutt
Lee Grant ... Mrs. Bullard
Arthur O'Connell ... Mr. Lomax
Martin Gabel ... Warden LeGoff
Michael Blodgett ... Coy Cavendish
C.K. Yang C.K. Yang ... Ah-Ping
Alan Hale Jr. ... Tobaccy (as Alan Hale)
Victor French ... Whiskey
Claudia McNeil ... Madam
Bert Freed ... 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

Taglines:

THE CROOKED BUNCH...locked in a living hell-hole...it took the crooked man to handle them...even if he had to kill them to do it! See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

19 September 1970 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Zwei dreckige Halunken See more »

Filming Locations:

Mojave Desert, Arizona, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A realistic 1880s territorial prison replica was constructed on four acres in the high-desert country of the Joshua Tree National Monument. Designed by Edward Carrere, Oscar-winning designer of such movies as The Wild Bunch (1969), it was one of the most massive location sets ever built. The prison's 20-foot-high, four-feet-thick walls enclosed 14 buildings, including a guards' barracks, warden's quarters, mess hall, kitchen, hospital, blacksmith shop, a mule shed, corral, seven guard towers, a solitary confinement cell and a gallows. Unlike a typical movie set, the buildings had to be roofed because aerial footage of the location would be filmed. Some 80 loads of rocks were trucked in (and later removed) to create the enormous hard-labor rock pile in the movie. Since no indigenous plants could be harmed, thousands of desert plants also had to be trucked to the location. See more »

Goofs

During the first riot scene, Dudley and Cyrus try to help Coy Cavendish, who is handcuffed to a post. They appear right next to him, then - in a wide shot - 20 meters away from him in the center of the fight, then again right next to him. See more »

Quotes

Paris Pittman Jr.: [to his cell mates about an escape plan] Anyway, start smelling around, and don't forget, I'm trusting you to keep quiet, all of you keep quiet.
The Missouri Kid: [Cynically] Like askin' a pack of coyotes to keep quiet about a dead horse.
See more »

Alternate Versions

A scene was shot where Miss Jessie Brundidge runs away from the prison completely naked, after having had her clothes torn off piece by piece over the course of the prison riot. Although two images from the shooting of this scene exit, proving that it was indeed shot, it was never a part of the final, finished film for U.S. release, and nor was it ever reinstated for either the VHS or, later, DVD release of the film. Whether the scene was ever added to any of the international releases of the film, however, is unknown. See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Burgess Meredith (1970) 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

 
Outlandish Western black comedy about a hugely sympathetic master thief making plans to getaway from a prison
12 September 2016 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

A charming but totally roguish and ruthless criminal called Paris Pitman Jr. (Kirk Douglas) is detained for robbing and condemned for a long time in a remote , impregnable territorial prison . There Pitman to start doing ten years in an isolated jail but being supported by a motley group of inmates (Burguess Meredith , Warren Oates , John Randolph , Hume Cronyn) . All of them are surveyed by an assorted team of stiff wardens (Victor French , Gene Evans , Alan Hale Jr.) . However , those years should pass quickly because of a $500,000 loot previously stashed away . But then , an innovative and incorruptible warden chief (Henry Fonda) takes over the Arizona town's prison and he has some new ideas about law and order . Scurrilous Pitman enlists the help of his cellmates in an escape attempt with the promise of sharing his hidden loot . At the end one of them lived happily ever after .

Offbeat Western black comedy displays an excellent plethora of actors , as main as secondary cast and with fine acting all around . This is a richly amusing tale , including hilarious touches , tongue-in-cheek , twists and turns . Interesting and fun script written by two prestigious screenwriters : David Newman and Robert Benton . Overlong Western ; however, Warners objected Mankiewicz's preferred version of the film (it ran to 165 minutes) and re-cut the film , to his great irritation , to a more manageable 126 minutes . One notable casualty of this re-cutting was the prominently-billed Lee Grant , a very well-known actress at the time, whose appearance is now barely a couple of minutes in length . Enjoyable performance by Kirk Douglas as a charming , intelligent and successful criminal who eventually imprisoned is sent in the middle of the Arizona desert ; here Douglas steals the show playing one of the smiling rogues that he did so well . Henry Fonda is perfect as a new idealistic warden who starts to manipulate everyone to achieve his goal , to take the stash . Douglas and Fonda dominate this western comedy as two immensely likable roguish men making plans to collect the buried loot . And brief nudism by today's standards, what remains is fairly tame : a couple glimpses of the bare backside of Kirk Douglas, a glimpse of a bare breast here and there and some mildly risqué drawings . Impressive production design , in fact a realistic 1880s territorial prison replica was constructed on four acres in the high-desert country of the Joshua Tree National Monument , being designed by Edward Carrere , Oscar-winning designer of such movies as Wind Bunch (1969) , it was one of the most massive location sets ever built . As the prison set took seven weeks to build , when construction began , it was snowing , when it ended, the temperature was 100 degrees . Furthermore , it contains a colorful cinematography in Panavision by Harry Stradling Jr . Lively and vivid musical score by Charles Strouse , adding some catching songs sung by Trini López .

The motion picture was compellingly made by Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993) , it was promoted as a "cynical western" , the film was released on Christmas Day 1970 and it did poorly at the holiday box office . Mankiewicz is considered to be one of the best directors of film history . He directed excellent pictures in all kinds of genres , such as intriguing dramas : ¨All about Eva¨ (50) , ¨Five Fingers¨ (51) , ¨The barefoot Contessa¨ (54) , ¨Suddenly , Last summer¨ (59) , ¨The honey pot¨ (67) ; Noir Film : ¨House of strangers¨ (49) , ¨No way out¨(50) ; Musical : ¨Guys and dolls¨ (55) , Fantasy : ¨The ghost and Mrs. Muir¨ (47) , and Historical : ¨Julius Caesar¨ (53) and ¨Cleopatra¨(63) .


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