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

Thursday, January 9, 2014


Lee Marvin lashes out as Sergeant Ryker
SERGEANT RYKER (1968). Director: Buzz Kulik.

The theatrical release Sergeant Ryker was actually the first two episodes of [Kraft] Suspense Theatre from 1963 -- "The Case Against Paul Ryker" -- joined together and released as a movie five years later by Universal; it was not remade. Sergeant Ryker (Lee Marvin) has been convicted of treason because no one will believe his story of carrying out a secret mission for a military official who is now dead and can't back up what Ryker says. The prosecutor, Captain David Young (Bradford Dillman), wonders if Ryker had a fair trial, and also begins to question his guilt after he meets Ryker's wife, Ann (Vera Miles), who thoroughly supports him even if she's no longer in love with him. Young makes such a pest of himself trying to dig up evidence that will confirm Ryker's story that an outraged General Bailey (Lloyd Nolan) orders his court-martial, but not before Young, the man who convicted Stryker, defends him in his new trial. Complicating matters is the fact that Young and Ann Stryker are falling in love ... Sergeant Ryker is suspenseful, has some intriguing twists and turns, and is well-acted, with Miles and Nolan making the best impression. Dillman is vivid and striking, even if he does overact in some scenes, and Marvin, while not perfect casting, has some very strong moments as well. Murray Hamilton of Jaws gives a typically slimy and obvious performance as another captain and an associate of Young's.

Verdict: Fairly strong television drama turned into a pretty good movie. ***.

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