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160703: This film was pure pleasure. When I read the synopsis on Flixster I had to see it. The description didn't seem possible from a 1960s film. Glad I took the time. A Confederate veteran, Mitch Garrett (Alan Ladd) loses the love of his life when he attempts to find medical help for his pregnant wife in a small town. Being mistreated by a hotel owner, then stalled by a storeowner and sheriff, all over $1.87 for medicine; Garrett's wife and unborn child die at the hands of the local doctor. To clear their conscience for not trusting him, the town offers Garrett multiple jobs one of which is deputy sheriff. Taking the deputy position, Garrett prepares to extract revenge against the whole town for their perceived sins. As part of his plan, Garrett enlists the aid of "the tired of living"; an alcoholic civil war veteran, Dan Keats (Don Murray), who possesses artistic skills and knowledge in making "liquid fire"; a gunfighter and fast draw contest winner, Stu Christian (Barry Coe); an English pickpocket, Sir Harry Ivers (Dan O'Herlihy); and a beautiful prostitute, Julie Reynolds (Dolores Michaels). What a fabulous, and surprising, cast for 1960. Based upon his demeanor and physical characteristics, I would never have expected the chubby cheeked Ladd to be the main star in this film. He does not fit the profile of such an angry person but perhaps that was the reason for his selection? As soon as you meet Dan Keats, you question Garrett's decision making. Can the whiskey slinger be trusted? I was intrigued by the fact Keats earns money for his addiction by drawing pictures for people. This skill comes into play later in the film further developing an already unique character. The Shootist, Stu Christian, is introduced at a quick draw contest reminiscent of The Quick and the Dead (1995). You have to believe the writer's of that film drew some inspiration from One Foot in Hell including the fact that anyone caught cheating would be shot down. And Sir Harry and Julie? Sir Harry, though quiet, fits right in and I was disappointed not to see him go. And Julie, well, you'll have to watch the film to find out. You won't be disappointed. The use of anti-heroes in 1960 was way ahead of its time. Add in treachery, multiple cold-blooded murders and a fantastic explosion (I have never seen so many cows jump at the same time) and you have a film worthy of a modern remake. Please, let it be done in my lifetime.
An anti-hero role for Alan Ladd in a western that's very much made in the studio mould, but carries a very negative message through its plot.
standard western fare