There Was a Crooked Man - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

There Was a Crooked Man Reviews

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August 25, 2015
Too unpleasant to be funny. Unsatisfying ending for the big show down. Implied gang rape as an intended joke?
½ December 5, 2014
It's a western! It's a prison flick! It's a comedy! It doesn't know what it is! Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda face off way out in the Arizona desert with Trini Lopez on the soundtrack and a solid cast of character actors (Burgess Meredith, Hume Cronyn, Warren Oates et al.) in support. Douglas is an armed robber who dreams of escape so that he can reunite with his $500K in loot. Fonda is the straight-edge reforming warden who may be too nice for his own good. Lost somewhere between the 1950s and the 1970s with a particularly off-kilter score, the whole may be a little less than the sum of its parts - but there is enough star power and acting chops to keep things trucking along.
½ July 8, 2014
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.
½ November 30, 2013
an off beat black comedy western
June 25, 2012
"The date for your hanging has not been set. In the meantime, obey the rules." Kirk Douglas outcharms all others as "The Son of a Bitch" outlaw imprisoned on account of a whorehouse peephole. His moral clash with Henry Fonda's warden is goofy and jovial, but the climax reveals a mean bastard behind the scalawag's smile and the cutesy comedy score simply masks the cynical ideals of a 1970s Western. A great cast lead by two of Hollywood's greatest talents, do not let this film remain forgotten. VF.
½ June 12, 2012
Cynical, witty and murderous...a fine, jaundiced view of humanity--Postmodern yet powerful!!
March 14, 2012
Nice film! Hard to classify it though, doesn't look like much of a western. Great ending!
½ January 24, 2012
A solid little Western that's recommendable if only for its refreshingly cynical sensibilities.
½ May 31, 2011
5/10 como mucho, que aburrida!!!!!!
½ July 19, 2010
Great cast and direction, but the real star here is the deceptively lighthearted script by David Newman and Robert Benton (the same team who'd earlier Bonnie and Clyde), which in many ways had a highly cynical subtext. Very underrated western.
½ June 2, 2010
The American western film was in a transitional period when ?Cleopatra? director Joseph L. Mankiewicz helmed ?There Was A Crooked Man? with Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, and Warren Oates. ?Bonnie and Clyde? scenarists David Newman and Robert Benton penned this above-average oater concerns a cunning thief who steals a half-million dollars from a wealthy man. The bankrupt man spots the robber in a bordello when he is peering through a hole in the wall. He raises the alarm, and the authorities capture the protagonist and sentence him to a ten year stretch in the territorial prison in the middle of a sun-scorched desert. Kirk Douglas is appropriately charismatic as Paris Pittman, Jr., an auburn-haired outlaw, while Henry Fonda is suitably stolid and upright as the moral guardian of virtue. Warren Oates is cast as a two-timing desperado that sold anybody out that befriended him. Burgess Meredith plays a crusty old cuss of an outlaw named ?the Missouri Kid? who grows his old marihuana. The bespectacled Pittman engineers a foolproof plan to break out of the prison and the naÔve new warden plays along with our anti-hero who takes advantage of the warden?s liberal attitude toward the prison system. Pittman convinces all of his cellmates to conspire with him. He has two confidence men, Dudley Whinner (Hume Cronyn of ?Brute Force?) and Cyrus McNutt (John Randolph of ?Seconds?), along with a treacherous two-bite outlaw, Moon (Warren Oates of ?The Wild Bunch?), a young murderer set to hang, Coy Cavendish (Michael Blodgett of ?40 Guns to Apache Pass?) and a muscular Chinese immigrant, Ah-Ping (C.K. Yang of ?One More Train to Rob?), to help him blow up the prison walls and start a riot. Initially, when Paris escaped from the whorehouse before he was later caught, he stashed the loot?in a pair of saddle bags and a ladies bloomer drawers?in a rocky pit slithering with rattlesnakes.

Mankiewicz does a good job with the Newman and Benton screenplay, and this 126 minute, Technicolor horse opera never wears out its welcome. The manipulative way that Paris Pittman uses his cellmates for his own ends is what makes ?There Was Crooked Man? so entertaining. The ending contains a surprise or two. Lenser Harry Stradling Jr. gives this western a nice, crisp appearance, while Edward Carrere?s production designs are excellent. Most of the action transpires in the prison. Clearly, the moral of this amoral western is that nobody is entirely safe from temptation. Moreover, ?There Was A Crooked Man? reflected the increasingly cynical nature of American westerns in the shadow of the Spaghetti western. There are also two instances of homosexuality here between two prison inmates and a sadistic prison foreman and a young man. Homosexual subplots rarely appeared in westerns until the 1970s, while ?the Missouri Kid? use of marihuana came long after the villain in ?For A Few Dollars More? smoked pot.
½ June 2, 2010
The American western film was in a transitional period when ‚??Cleopatra‚?? director Joseph L. Mankiewicz helmed ‚??There Was A Crooked Man‚?? with Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, and Warren Oates. ‚??Bonnie and Clyde‚?? scenarists David Newman and Robert Benton penned this above-average oater concerns a cunning thief who steals a half-million dollars from a wealthy man. The bankrupt man spots the robber in a bordello when he is peering through a hole in the wall. He raises the alarm, and the authorities capture the protagonist and sentence him to a ten year stretch in the territorial prison in the middle of a sun-scorched desert. Kirk Douglas is appropriately charismatic as Paris Pittman, Jr., an auburn-haired outlaw, while Henry Fonda is suitably stolid and upright as the moral guardian of virtue. Warren Oates is cast as a two-timing desperado that sold anybody out that befriended him. Burgess Meredith plays a crusty old cuss of an outlaw named ‚??the Missouri Kid‚?? who grows his old marihuana. The bespectacled Pittman engineers a foolproof plan to break out of the prison and the na√Įve new warden plays along with our anti-hero who takes advantage of the warden‚??s liberal attitude toward the prison system. Pittman convinces all of his cellmates to conspire with him. He has two confidence men, Dudley Whinner (Hume Cronyn of ‚??Brute Force‚??) and Cyrus McNutt (John Randolph of ‚??Seconds‚??), along with a treacherous two-bite outlaw, Moon (Warren Oates of ‚??The Wild Bunch‚??), a young murderer set to hang, Coy Cavendish (Michael Blodgett of ‚??40 Guns to Apache Pass‚??) and a muscular Chinese immigrant, Ah-Ping (C.K. Yang of ‚??One More Train to Rob‚??), to help him blow up the prison walls and start a riot. Initially, when Paris escaped from the whorehouse before he was later caught, he stashed the loot‚??in a pair of saddle bags and a ladies bloomer drawers‚??in a rocky pit slithering with rattlesnakes.

Mankiewicz does a good job with the Newman and Benton screenplay, and this 126 minute, Technicolor horse opera never wears out its welcome. The manipulative way that Paris Pittman uses his cellmates for his own ends is what makes ‚??There Was Crooked Man‚?? so entertaining. The ending contains a surprise or two. Lenser Harry Stradling Jr. gives this western a nice, crisp appearance, while Edward Carrere‚??s production designs are excellent. Most of the action transpires in the prison. Clearly, the moral of this amoral western is that nobody is entirely safe from temptation. Moreover, ‚??There Was A Crooked Man‚?? reflected the increasingly cynical nature of American westerns in the shadow of the Spaghetti western. There are also two instances of homosexuality here between two prison inmates and a sadistic prison foreman and a young man. Homosexual subplots rarely appeared in westerns until the 1970s, while ‚??the Missouri Kid‚?? use of marihuana came long after the villain in ‚??For A Few Dollars More‚?? smoked pot.
½ January 8, 2010
What a crooked mess. Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda should have known better to get involved in this story that never really decides if it wants to be a straight western or a comedy or a prison movie or an allegory. The music is particularly bad in scene after scene. Kirk Douglas shows off his wrinkled old heinie in two scenes.
A total misfire.
November 27, 2009
Under-appreciated at the time of its release (despite the star-studded cast and acclaimed director, Warner Bros. obviously was at a loss as to how to market the film and pretty much dumped it into release with little fanfar), this bawdy, offbeat western-comedy/prison film is extremely entertaining. Writers David Newman and Robert Benton follwed up their seminal script for "Bonnie And Clyde" with this story, which has a similar brand of irony and "anti-establishment" sensibility. Kirk Douglas is at his sly, wily best and the supporting charaters are a complimentary hoot.
Super Reviewer
½ October 20, 2009
Found it to be boring & NOT funny at all
August 13, 2009
Some might think there is too much humor for the film to be serious. Others may say there's too much violence and double-crossing for the film to funny. Both camps would be wrong.

You've got here a great performance by Kirk Douglas, wonderful supporting turns by Burgess Meredith, John Randolph and Hume Cronyn and a great adversary (it's hard to say who the bad guy is) in Henry Fonda.

The humor makes the ending (and the overarching themes) all the more effective. You are lulled into caring about these characters, bad men who do bad things. What happens to them matters because of that.
½ March 7, 2009
This was fun to watch
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
½ January 11, 2009
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.
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