22 May 2008 | alonzoiii-1
Interesting -- But The Star Is Too Old and the Budget Too Small
Dan Duryea -- innocent(!?) and decent rube from Vermont, goes west and decides to become a bounty hunter. Embittered by circumstances, he becomes the mean, Dan Duryea-esquire sneering nasty man known as the BOUNTY KILLER.
This episodic movie, chock full of old western stars, is a real frustration, because the elements to an Anthony Mann style western are there -- an intriguing premise, great acting by Duryea in the second half of the movie, and malicious murder of a cheerful sidekick. But...
Well, first and foremost, the role is written for someone who is no older than 30 and who can play somewhat clueless innocence. Duryea looks every bit of 55, which makes his pursuit of the young, pretty heroine a touch creepy. Also, for the first half of the movie, Duryea's attempt to portray youthful innocence is simply awful. Oddly enough -- for someone who, by all accounts, was a nice guy who only married once -- Duryea cannot carry off nice and he really cannot carry off clueless. It is a relief when the script, about 30 minutes in, finally allows him to be sly and tricky. (The performance gets much better when circumstances turn Duryea bitter -- and he gets to show us a darn good depiction of a good man gone drunk and evil.)
Secondly, this movie was made on the cheap, and it shows badly. All the outdoor dramatic scenes take place on the same cheesy "outdoor" set, with a photograph of the desert mountains serving as a backdrop to the plastic trees.
Third, the plot has some big old holes and lines that no actor could make sound right. Also, the ending, alas, is really, really, really predictable.
All in all, this movie is worth seeing, but it probably won't seem that way until you've gotten through 30 minutes of the movie. Fans of the genre should stick it out.