Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


THE OUTCASTS OF POKER FLAT (1952). Director: Joseph M. Newman.

The film begins with a tense, well-executed bank robbery in the town of Poker Flats, but then goes downhill from there. This is the third of several film versions of Bret Harte's famous short story, and is a very loose adaptation. After the robbery the town decides to turn loose certain immoral elements and several people are told to get out or be hanged. A gambler, John Oakhurst (Dale Robertson) suggests they go to a cabin he knows of; they are joined by a young couple about to have a baby. Not only is there a storm on the way and no food, but along comes bank robber Ryker (Cameron Mitchell) looking for his wife Cal (Anne Baxter), who's developed a tender feeling for Oakhurst. Miriam Hopkins is apparently the town's madam. What might have been developed as a strong drama turns into a mediocre melodrama that wastes most of its cast. The main problem is that the characters aren't developed enough for us to give a hoot about them. Generally well-acted, although Robertson is a bit of a lightweight compared to the others.

Verdict: Lost in a snow storm all right. **.

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