6 December 2015 | bkoganbing
They're still sparking
Cornel Wilde who preferred to chart his own course in independent film making as opposed to going to television as so many of his contemporaries were doing made a fine one with Storm Fear. As per usual his wife Jean Wallace joined in the endeavor. It must have been good for him as well as financing for his movies to have a leading lady instantly available.
In this film Wilde is a nominal bad guy. A charming bank robber at least as far as the women are concerned. At least as far as Jean Wallace is concerned as they had a son together, but it was Wilde's older brother Dan Duryea, a would be novelist who married Wallace and carried on the fiction that he was David Stollery's father. They live in a remote area of one of our Rocky Mountain states.
Wilde's just robbed a bank and he and his two surviving accomplices, Lee Grant and Steven Hill head for the Duryea-Wallace farm as a hideout and to recuperate as Wilde was shot in the holdup. Of course while they're there Duryea spots some sparks between Wilde and Wallace.
Wilde who directed as well as played the lead got some complex emotions out of his players. He's a bad guy, but still charming in his own way and protects his family from what a psychotic Steven Hill might do. Wallace is still in love with Wilde, but knows full well what a charming liar he is. Duryea is a decent, but inadequate man who knows he's been a failure far from his usual variety of psychotic villains.
Before Kirk Douglas's more celebrated breaking of the blacklist with hiring Dalton Trumbo for the Spartacus screenplay, Wilde did some blacklist breaking of his own in hiring Lee Grant in what turned out to be only her second feature film. Grant does very well in a role that calls for her to be a good natured gangster's moll who meets with a tragic end. In fact the most straight forward part in the film is that played by Dennis Weaver as the hired hand on the Duryea-Wallace farm who goes chasing the robbers.
Wilde assembled a fine supporting cast to support him as an actor and his vision as producer/director. One reason he could hire Lee Grant was because he was producer of Storm Fear which was released by United Artists. He created a real winner here.