Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews. I have now launched a podcast about the making of Westerns and the overall filmmaking process. Click here to listen.
Week 181: Ride a Violent Mile
It’s amazing to think that in the same year Charles Marquis Warren made Trooper Hook, starring Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck, and also created Ride a Violent Mile with John Agar and Penny Edwards. If you stood the two films up side by side, no one would be able to tell they were directed by the same man. The differences are astounding, even neglecting the disparity in preservation between these two Westerns. It truly demonstrates the difference between a lower budget studio picture and an independent cheapie.
Warren made Ride a Violent Mile as what appears to be the first outing for his own company, Emirau Productions, after leaving Gunsmoke. It’s a by-the-numbers spy Western that wanders into conventional and contrived territory after a promising opening sequence. Initially it seems like Warren might be playing with some shifting alliances and seductive qualities in his femme fatale-like leading lady but soon the film settles into something much more routine. The problem is that the story is lazy. A sequence where Agar and Edwards approach a Mexican farmer about hiding them from the approaching bad guys is the first sign of poor plotting. What occurs with the farmer just doesn’t make sense and only serves to provide a brief, unearned surprise. That’s followed by what should have been a tense cabin scene with Bing Russell (Kurt’s dad giving the film’s best performance) which is undercut by some truly bizarre action staging. Warren throws logic out the window with this and other scenes, making some giant leaps to get his characters to do what he wants them to do.
I’m a stickler for action making sense and Warren’s usually does. Sadly, this film bares no comparison to Hellgate or Little Big Horn. I wonder what happened.
Watched on rarefilmm.com