Garden of Evil (1954)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Garden of Evil Photos

Movie Info

Gary Cooper, Richard Widmark and Cameron Mitchell portray three somewhat disreputable 19th-century soldiers of fortune, en route to California to prospect for gold. Stopping over in a tiny Mexican village, the three men are hired by Susan Hayward to rescue her husband, who is trapped in a gold mine in hostile Indian territory. The threesome agree to the expedition, their interest piqued by the possibility of picking up some gold themselves. During the harrowing journey, the party's already frayed nerves are aggravated when the men become attracted to Hayward. The group arrives at the mine's location--the Garden of Evil, so named because the Indians regard it as the domain of evil spirits. During the escape, Hayward's husband (Hugh Marlowe) is killed by the Indians, as is Mitchell. Cooper and Widmark play cards to decide who will take Hayward to safety and who will cover them while they flee. Cooper wins--but later discovers that Widmark had cheated in order to sacrifice himself. Garden of Evil takes too long to get to its climax, but the Cinemascope photography and Bernard Herrmann's rich musical score make the wait worthwhile.
Action & Adventure , Drama , Western , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
20th Century Fox Film Corporation


Cameron Mitchell
as Luke Daly
Rita Moreno
as Singer
Manuel Donde
as Waiter
Gary Cooper
as Hooker
Hugh Marlowe
as John Fuller
Susan Hayward
as Leah Fuller
Víctor Manuel Mendoza
as Vicente Madariaga
Antonio Bribiesca
as Bartender
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Garden of Evil

All Critics (3)

The character dynamics are what make this tale interesting, and it's never hard to watch these A-listers in their patented roles -- Cooper as the voice of reason, Widmark full of wisecracks and wit, and Hayward exuding fiery independence.

Full Review… | May 21, 2016
Creative Loafing

All-star cast, headed by Gary Cooper and Susan Hayward, elevates this Henry Hathaway's B Western

Full Review… | April 29, 2011

Muddled, plodding Western that fails in its attempt to be profound.

Full Review… | May 22, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Garden of Evil


Great actors in the midst of new technology. The plot is average. The main reason is that it was the movie studio's (Fox) first use of cinemascope. The land is the real protagonist of the film. The musical score is up and center in the film and it rides with the land. (The composer Bernard Hermann worked on Citizen Kane and a many Alfred Hitchcock films) It takes place in Mexico through open and uninhabited territory. This choice of land allowed it to make use of the widescreen shot that surrounded the moviegoer to make him feel like he was really in the screen. There are great dialogue lines uttered by Richard Widmark. I can't fault the acting, it's just that the film was meant as a tribute to the landscape more than a story. There are great subtexts throughout, but they do not really come out or are a part of the narrative. It is an enjoyable film despite its limitations. Cooper and Widmark arrive at a small town in Mexico when their ship has to dock for unexpected repairs. Hayward walks into the cantina where Cooper and Widmark settle in to ask for help to save her trapped husband at a gold mine. She will repay the help handsomely. No one wants to go there because it is a cursed land but four men take Hayward up on her offer. The rest of the film slowly proceeds as they make their journey through the rough terrain to the place where gold is abundant, but so is death: the Garden of Evil. On their trip back the group has to try to escape from the natives of the land to survive. It left me with a big question on the use of the natives. Their presence and motivations seemed superficial; so I question the historicity and probability of the second act of the film. Again, it just seemed like the narrative was at the mercy of the land and so much of it might comes across as contrived. Despite that, it is an entertaining film for fans of the genre.

gerardo rodriguez
gerardo rodriguez

A movie that doesn't really go anywhere or have a purpose, except as a travel film. The premise is that Hayward hires a group of men, Cooper and Widmark among them, to help get gold from a mine. Of course there is Indian trouble once they get back to the gold. So a good part of the movie is the journey getting to the gold and then running away from it once the Indians show up. Now Cooper's group totals 6 and they have firearms while the Indians have bows and arrows, some monster arrows really, but they have numbers and know the terrain. It gets odd because the Indians have them surrounded, we know this because arrows kill a couple of people by striking them from behind, but that's it the group does not react like they are surrounded nor do the Indians take advantage of surrounding them. It seems to be a movie that takes advantage of CinemaScope for the great western scenery and not much else.

Mike L
Mike L

Typical Western with no surprises along the way, but some impressive stuntwork and truly magnificent use of the then-new Cinemascope widescreen photography. Richard Widmark is also quite good as the smart-aleck side-kick which he always did so well.

Ben Ritchie
Ben Ritchie

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