Tafero's DVD Reviews of the Day (1320) - Along The Great Divide - 1951
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Tafero's DVD Reviews of the Day (1320) - Along The Great Divide - 1951

This is a DVD movie review of Along The Great Divide - 1952. This is a story line similar to 3:10 to Yuma, where a sheriff escorts a prisoner to his destination.

1320 – Along the Great Divide – 1951- Directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Kirk Douglas, Virginia Mayo, John Agar and Walter Brennan. Walter Brennan used to make a great living as a second banana in Hollywood Westerns. He was so good at it he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor three times which tied him with Jack Nicholson as the most honored actor in Hollywood film history. This was Douglas’s first role in a Western; he was rejected for the Montgomery Clift role in Red River. Why they would ever choose a sissy like Clift to play a rugged cowboy over Douglas is beyond me, but time eventually showed that they made the wrong choice. Douglas is very good in this film as the sheriff similar to the character of the sheriff in 3:10 to Yuma, who has to bring a suspect in for trial in another town. As usual, Mayo is just window dressing in this Western, as most women were for most Westerns until someone like Barbara Stanwyck or Marlene Dietrich came along and actually overwhelmed the male actors.

We follow Douglas on the trail dragging his suspect every inch of the way. Of course, there are complications with the prisoner, John Agar (who tragically died at a very young age as his star was rising), who redeems himself on the way to his incarceration. Douglas comes to change his mind about his prisoner and in the final showdown, Agar once again proves to Douglas that there is a lot more to the prisoner than we had originally thought. This Western has a built-in suspense mechanism because there ia always the tension of the sherif guarding the prisoner. At any time in the film they may be a confrontation or an escape attempt. This mechanism also worked well in both versions of 3:10 to Yuma; both with Glen Ford and Russell Crowe. In casting, you have a difficult dilemma. Should you cast a prisoner that is tougher than the sheriff? Or should you try and make their personalities balance each other? If the sheriff is tougher than the prisoner, the suspense will diminish quite sharply, so balance is a better strategy. In some ways, the film is highly instructive in teaching one not to judge someone too quickly. Sometimes you need time to find out the real substance of a person you may have judged too soon. Recommended with reservations.

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