There Was a Crooked Man (1970)




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A typically adventurous work from producer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, There Was a Crooked Man casts Kirk Douglas as the brains of a gang of frontier desperadoes. Arrested in a brothel after holding up merchant Arthur O'Connell, Douglas is carted off to territorial prison, where he quickly establishes himself as the lord of the flies. Idealistic new warden Henry Fonda vows to improve morale and living conditions in the prison, and to that end enlists the aid of Douglas, who pretends to be the warden's toady. In fact, Douglas is plotting a prison break along with Warren Oates, who'd previously crippled Fonda in a shoot out, and homosexual cellmates Hume Cronyn and Burgess Meredith. There's many a surprise and double-cross in store for all concerned before the wryly cynical finale. There Was a Crooked Man was co-scripted by David Newman and Robert Benton, who manage to inject a great deal of historical accuracy into their fictional yarn.
Classics , Western
Directed By:
In Theaters:
Warner Bros. Pictures

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Kirk Douglas
as Paris Pitman, Jr.
Henry Fonda
as Woodward W. Lopeman
Hume Cronyn
as Dudley Whinner
Warren Oates
as Floyd Moon
Burgess Meredith
as The Missouri Kid
John Randolph
as Cyrus McNutt
Arthur O'Connell
as Mr. Lomax
Martin Gabel
as Warden Le Goff
Michael Blodgett
as Coy Cavendish
Alan Hale Jr.
as Tobaccy
Victor French
as Whiskey
Lee Grant
as Mrs. Bullard
C.K. Yang
as Ah-Ping Woo
Bert Freed
as Skinner
Barbara Rhoades
as Miss Jessie Brundidge
Gene Evans
as Col. Wolff
Jeanne Cooper
as Prostitute
Ann Doran
as Mrs. Lomax
Byron Foulger
as Town Council Member
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Critic Reviews for There Was a Crooked Man

All Critics (6)

...a solid little Western that's worth a look if only for its refreshingly cynical sensibilities.

Full Review… | January 24, 2007
Reel Film Reviews

O senso de humor do filme desarma de maneira brilhante o espectador, pegando-o completamente de surpresa com o cinismo de seu terceiro ato.

January 20, 2007
Cinema em Cena

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May 7, 2007

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July 19, 2005

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May 14, 2004
Reeling Reviews

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Full Review… | December 31, 1999

Audience Reviews for There Was a Crooked Man


The ending ruined it. It was inconsistent with the light-heartedness of most of the rest of the film e.g. bath time for everyone. Pitman insisted that he was a son of a bitch, but what he did during the escape was still shocking. And Lopeman's final decision was completely out of character.

Dennis  Addison
Dennis Addison

I suspect that the writers and the director (Joseph Mankiewicz) would be better suited for comedic endeavors than serious, dramatic westerns. This is one picture that is far too light-hearted to be taken seriously. Even the violence, and there is lots of it, seems slapstick and frivolous. It's a shame that such a great cast was wasted on shallow, forgettable material.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

Another '70's dark comedy and western classic. Entertaining and true to its era, the movie feels like a 2 hour critic of established morality.

Kervin Smith
Kervin Smith

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