Film Review: A Man Alone

"A body does't have to get on a horse and ride a thousand miles to be running away" Wesley Steele

"Justice will be swift and final" Stanley

"They've got my name on a rope, haven't they....he's got this town in his hands". Wesley Steele

"Disenchanted, paranoid, claustrophobic, A Man Alone is a minor classic",
The Rough Guide to Westerns, Paul Simpson, 2006

A Man Alone
Ray Milland and Mary Murphy

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A Man Alone, Ray Milland,1955

The opening sequence is classic, a lone rider is in difficulties in the desert. Not only is Wesley Steele alone but he is adept at being in the wring place at the wrong time and becomes embroiled in the machinations of a frontier town. For the first 30 minutes our taciturn unnamed man says nothing. Yet his character is revealed in his actions. Circumstances conspire against him such that he is in a tight spot. The film tracks his struggle to stay clear of being put in the frame for a crime he had nothing to do with.

This intriguing film is a little slow at times but it has much to commend it. Ray Milland as Wesley Steele is well cast, for he is laconic and laid back despite his predicament. Raymond Burr was still in his villainous pre Ironside days and Ward Bond benefits from being in a coma for most of the film. Since he used him as the on set whipping boy John Ford would have approved. When Gill (Ward Bond) wakes up it makes very little difference, until he launches into a monologue which is absolutely dire.. Contrasting with his ham performance, Mary Murphy as his daughter, the leading lady Nadine, grows as the film develops. She is wonderful.

This film is about justice, and uses the lack of law and order in the frontier town to explore how law enforcers can be bought, how weak ordinary citizens can be and, in the words of Nadine, "the difference between right and wrong".

I enjoyed this film, I recommend it, it is thought provoking and this raises it above just watchable.

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Chris Smallbone October 2011

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