I was 27 years old when the original was produced but didn't see it at the time. In fact, I didn't have my first viewing of that fine thriller until a couple of years ago on TCM. I was engrossed. This film is a prime example of a remake that replaces plot and substance with technology and foul language to make its point.
Many other reviewers here have dealt with their criticisms in comparing the new version with the original. I will not. I can't improve upon them. However, consider this. Washington's character has just been the primary negotiator for the "good guys" in a tense hostage situation; has been virtually forced, for the good of others, to put his life in danger to deliver the ransom money to hijackers of a NYC subway train; at the end, in a kill or be killed scenario, he must shoot the ringleader(Travolta)of the bad guys. His background? A former train engineer who is promoted to a pencil pushing executive position.
Now tell me, wouldn't this be a situation where Washington's character might require some psychological debriefing for his own mental health? Not in this flick! Nope, he goes home dutifully with the gallon of milk his wife requested during the tense negotations with the hijackers! By the subway, of course! Immediately after his ordeal! Incredible... and that's what this movie is in the worst definition of the term.
Hollywood was probably cranking out two or three of these "Oaters" per week during the 1930s and early 1940s. They were simple "B" movies for the Saturday matinée audience.
Two things, in my opinion, made this movie a notch above the rest. First, Marshal Tom O'Malley, portrayed by George O'Brien, does not have some toothless, goofy old guy for a sidekick who tends to be more of a hindrance than a help to the hero. Instead, he is supported by a Deputy-Marshal, as played by Ray Whitley, who plays an integral role in bringing the bad guys to justice. Refreshing. Second, Whitley was a competent singer/songwriter of Western music (he wrote "Back in the Saddle Again" which became a big hit for Gene Autry) and he has a chance to perform some of his songs in the movie.
So, while the movie is hardly a must-see, it is a pleasant diversion for an hour and a cut above the standard "B" Western of that era.
I can understand the purpose of propaganda movies during WWII. It would be good if they were at least accurately presented! Errol Flynn portrays an undercover RCMP Corporal in pursuit of a Nazi pilot ultimately intent on bombing the St. Lawrence Seaway.
This movie is set in "the frozen north" of Canada. We find out, eventually, that the setting is near The Pas, Manitoba in August of 1943 (a prisoner release document reveals this fact). If we are to buy into the story to start with, maybe we should deal with the credibility of the setting! The Pas is in the upper plains of Manitoba near the Saskatchewan border. So why do we see mushing huskies traversing mountainous terrain? There are no mountains within a thousand miles of The Pas and in August, the climate would be very summer-like. I'm sure Canadians who viewed the movie originally would have been quite amused! Throw in a paper thin plot, a laughable romantic red herring and you have a pretty awful movie. If the idea was to induce movie-goers to buy war bonds, I doubt if a nickle was collected based on this bummer!
When I think of great westerns, I think of John Ford movies of the 1940s, High Noon, Shane... movies of that ilk. When I previewed the IMDb rating for this one and saw that it favored comparably, I watched it with high hopes.
To say I was disappointed is understating it. The script meandered and the dialogue was, at times, laughable. I think Crawford and McCambridge thought it was a silent movie given the way they over-emoted throughout. Hayden must have realized he was in a turkey early... he merely goes through the motions. Some scenarios are beyond realistic, chief among them the notion that Hayden and Brady might have romantic inclinations toward Crawford. She was 11 years older than Hayden and a whopping 19 years older than Brady! Very curious casting decisions. The only positives, and they're minor praises... a decent score, interesting outside scenery, and colorful cinematography. I suspect it derives its high rating when one considers it so bad, it becomes a camp curio. I'm not among them. 3/10 for me!
As a work of fiction, I suppose this picture could have some entertainment value. As a biopic, it should have some historical validity vis a vis the facts as they are known. There were so many (countless actually) errors in dealing with the onset of Babe Ruth's baseball career that the whole exercise must be challenged. If the screenwriter is loose and fast with basic information about the athlete's career on the field, why should the viewer accept any elements of the story regarding his life off it? The whole story lost credibility in my eyes from the start and it wasn't long before I lost interest in the movie entirely.
Perhaps in 1953, when this film was made, it would have some credibility... but I doubt it! Of all the Jack the Ripper movies extant, surely this would rank as one of worst of that particular genre.
The cinematography is fine, fitting the period perfectly. To counterbalance the only redeeming quality of the film, the musical score is decidedly early 1950s, totally out of place with the theme of the era. The script is ridiculous... only a five year old might be deceived into not predicting where it was headed. Palance, as the villain is okay, but he was better on a horse in the wild west battling John Wayne or Alan Ladd. Francis Bavier, better known as Aunt Bee in the "Andy Griffith Show", is amusing in her role as the landlady but unfortunately, she oughtn't be. After all, we're dealing with a serial killer here! The whole film misses the mark badly. 2/10!
Jack, since "Five Easy Pieces", which I regarded as his best "piece" of work, has not really moved me with his performances. Too much attitude, too much emotive "acting". Too many characters which were more or less the same. In my opinion, he became typecast as an unsympathetic jerk!
This movie, (after what... 35 years) has changed my opinion!
I saw the trailers and shrugged. A lover of movies, but not necessarily going to theaters to watch 'em, I finally saw the show on a pay-per-view basis and became totally engrossed. Nicholson's performance was most believable! His character was one that you could alternately empathize with, feel sorry for or regard with some disgust. To evoke those sort of emotions, from this viewer at least, was astonishing. I'll say this... he deserved an Oscar for this performance far more than for those performances for which he won! Bad luck for him, I suppose, that Brody had perhaps an even better vehicle to display his talents, at least to the Academy.
There was more to enjoy about the movie than Jack's acting, especially if you've lived in or are familiar with life in small cities or towns. The movie touches bases within that experience, particularly the wedding scene. The byline of Jack's character spilling emotions to a six year old African, who could not possibly understand the frustrations of a person 60 years his senior, was crafted irony. Kathy Bates performance also deserved recognition.
One last point... if you're over 50, too many points the movie makes may strike too close to home on many levels. It gives pause for thought!
This was a movie that totally exceeded my expectations. 9 *'s