Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.


Week Fifty Seven: Garden of Evil

Henry Hathaway is a director whose work I haven’t studied yet. I suspect this is not the best sample of his work but I might as well dive in somewhere.

Garden of Evil mixes the men-on-a-mission sub-genre with an attempt at Delmer Daves style psycho-sexual conflict. It doesn’t quite work. The mission part isn’t thrilling enough and the mental conflict doesn’t play with enough depth. I never felt danger between these men and their desire for the woman, though it is fun to watch Cooper and Widmark go toe to toe. They feel more like buddies the whole time so it’s no surprise when the supposed mutual respect kicks in at the end.

The real star of this film is the location. Shooting in real places, not just backdrops, Hathaway provides some stunning vistas. Some play just as sight seeing and others really provide the most dangerous feelings of the whole piece. It shows what a difference it makes to shoot on location.

Overall, I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from watching Garden of Evil but it certainly can’t be the best example of Hathaway’s work.

Seen on Amazon Prime.