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

Thursday, May 19, 2016


Gary Cooper contemplates eternity
GARDEN OF EVIL (1954). Director: Henry Hathaway.

"Age before beauty." -- Richard Widmark to Gary Cooper.

Down in Mexico, a desperate woman, Leah Fuller (Susan Hayward), importunes a group of strangers to take a long trip through Apache country to rescue her husband, John (Hugh Marlowe), who is trapped in a mine. The strangers consist of Hooker (Gary Cooper), Fiske (Richard Widmark), Luke (Cameron Mitchell), and Vincente (Victor Manuel Mendoza). As they effect this rescue, the restless Apaches are keeping watch ... That's the slight storyline to this mediocre picture that does boast some stunning CinemaScope photography (Krasner and Stahl), beautiful location settings, and a score by Bernard Herrmann that is much, much better than the movie deserves. As for the acting, Cooper is listless, Mendoza is fine, Marlowe [Elmer Gantry] is relatively terrible, Hayward is just okay, Widmark [The Tunnel of Love] has a bit more vitality, and Mitchell [Man-eater of Hydra] comes off best as the deceptively friendly Luke. In its attitude towards Native Americans, this is not a progressive western, but then in this pretentious and weak screenplay all of the characters are paper thin. Rita Moreno shows up very briefly as a saloon singer.

Verdict: Great to look at and listen to, but that's it! **.

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