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Horrible, horrible Alan Ladd western


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saw the beginning once but last nite sat through the whole thing. One Foot in Hell from 1960. Alan Ladd playing a confederate veteran picks the wrong town to drive his wagon into.

it's late at night and his pregnant wife is in major distress. the hotel clerk doan wanna be bothered this late and lacking 1.87 for medicine the proprieter refuses it causing Ladd to pull a gun on him because he is so stressed out over his wife. the sheriff hinders him also so when he finally gets back to the hotel doc Larry Gates informs him his wife died minutes ago and this sad callous opening sets up the rest of this mean little film. Ladd doan look good in this. he's too puffy and he is wearing a silly-looking toupee. some of his iconic status as Shane is damaged by him doing this film as it is revealed early on that he is now a cold-blooded murderer when he shoots the sheriff...and then takes his job. Ladd's mitch Garrett is completely cold-blooded and devoid of any conscious or did his wife's death bring suppressed yankee-hatred to the surface?

who cares Ladd is a monster in this movie. he shoots down another guy later on again in cold blood and has dandy fop sir Harry played by Dan O'Herlihy gun down the sleepy druggist in his store after mentioning the infamous 1.87...seriously, that alone strains the credibility of this awful aaron spelling exercise. sir O'Herlihy is gonna gun down in cold blood a man who is a complete stranger just to placate Ladd? even westerns have to make some sense. I do agree through most of the film Don Murray overacts something awful but his acting does spruce up torwards the end.

John Wayne would never have beschmirched his image the way that Alan Ladd does here. if you like Alan Ladd as Shane you might find this western appalling.

 

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6 minutes ago, NipkowDisc said:

John Wayne would never have beschmirched his image the way that Alan Ladd does here.

Somebody hasn't seen The Green Berets....

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I reviewed this film a few years ago and rather enjoyed it.

Here's my commentary:

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 6.06.49 AM.jpg

Made near the end of Alan Ladd’s career, ONE FOOT IN HELL is tougher than most westerns. It’s about a man named Mitch Barrett who seeks revenge on a town for the death of his wife. Aaron Spelling co-authored the screenplay and he gives Ladd plenty of opportunity to demonstrate a range of emotions, which the actor does with skill.

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 6.10.56 AM.jpg

Mitch Barrett goes crazy due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, and we’re supposed to sympathize and even applaud his brand of vigilante justice. The whole town did not actually kill his pregnant wife, but none of them would help when she had a difficult delivery. She lost the baby and then lost her life. So Mitch is grieving badly, and he unleashes his anger at the ones he holds most responsible. This includes a hotel manager, a store owner and a lazy sheriff.

Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 6.09.09 AM.jpg

Ladd seems to enjoy the dramatic possibilities of the story. His older-looking appearance adds to the grittiness of the film. There are shocking scenes where Mitch murders the sheriff then takes over his job. He gains everyone’s admiration as the new lawman, acting as if he’s forgiven them for the death of his wife. But of course, Mitch hasn’t really gotten over it, and becoming sheriff is just an opportunity to take the law into his own hands.

Screen shot 2018-03-13 at 7.50.49 PM.png

In addition to Ladd’s revenge-minded character, we have a drifter named Dan Keats, played by Don Murray. Dan Keats is an alcoholic ex-soldier in need of money. There is also a prostitute (Dolores Michaels) in search of a better life; as well as a suave pickpocket (Dan O’Herlihy). It’s a unique ragtag group, and each one plays a key role in the given scenario. Eventually these people join up with Mitch to rob the town bank.

Screen shot 2018-03-13 at 8.07.21 PM.png

Of course, things don’t go smoothly. But Mitch will not go down without a fight. The story reaches a climax inside the local saloon, where Mitch is gunned to death. I won’t tell you who shoots him, because it’s very surprising. After Mitch is killed, Spelling’s story does provide a happy ending, or at least a partially happy conclusion, when Dan Keats and the prostitute decide to reform. They agree to do their time and then reconnect when they get out.

Screen shot 2018-03-13 at 8.07.53 PM.png

It’s not the best film ever made, but has several things going for it. There are a lot of great outdoor scenes. It’s photographed in CinemaScope and in color with Fox’s typically good production values. The theme of a man taking on those who’ve wronged him is one Ladd would revisit in 13 WEST STREET, a noir where he fights delinquents. In this story, Ladd battles more “respectable” folks. He has gone to hell, and hell can’t handle him.

Screen shot 2018-03-13 at 7.54.14 PM.png

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I can't recall seeing the film in question, but it's hard for me to watch any film late in the career of Ladd. He was an alcoholic and in his last films, the effects of the constant, heavy drinking really show on his face. In his second to last film, 13 West Street, he looks horrible, and he looks uncomfortable in his scenes. Ladd died in 1964, OD'd on a combination of alcohol and barbiturates. Fifty years old. That's far too young.

I think the latest film in his career where he still resembles the Alan Ladd we remember from Shane is The Badlanders.

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I actually did think his character's last name was Barrett not Garrett but became unsure..he is not killed in a saloon but a shack after fighting with Dan Keats and the blonde had to shoot Barrett to save Keats' life.

I just cannot cotton to Alan Ladd gunning down people anymore than I can Fonda shooting a kid in Once upon a Time in the West.

:)

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3 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

I actually did think his character's last name was Barrett not Garrett but became unsure..he is not killed in a saloon but a shack after fighting with Dan Keats and the blonde had to shoot Barrett to save Keats' life.

I just cannot cotton to Alan Ladd gunning down people anymore than I can Fonda shooting a kid in Once upon a Time in the West.

:)

I think your reaction (dislike for the film) probably has more to do with the fact he's playing against type as an unsympathetic character. I am sure as an actor it was fun for him to sink his teeth into a role that gave him something different to play, other than the standard western romantic hero.

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7 hours ago, NipkowDisc said:

John Wayne would never have beschmirched his image the way that Alan Ladd does here.

 

7 hours ago, Fedya said:

Somebody hasn't seen The Green Berets....

Or The Conqueror

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The problem with One Foot in Hell is not that Alan Ladd plays a man who, bitter for revenge after the death of his wife, turns into a cold blooded manipulator. That could have been interesting counter casting of an actor known for playing heroes. The problem is that a puffy faced Ladd does nothing with the role and delivers a somnambulist performance. Unfortunately, this is typical of the actor in virtually all of his final films. He was drinking more than ever and it showed in both his appearance and attitude on screen. By the time of his second last film, 13 West Street, he would look downright haggard.

One Foot In Hell is just further evidence of the sad downward decline of an actor who would be dead four years later at a far too young age but looking much older.

The last film he made worth watching, in my opinion, was a sensitive, low key western The Proud Rebel (1958) in which he delivered one of his better performances. It was also the last film of note in the career of director Michael Curtiz.

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3 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

Didn't Ladd and Curtiz work together again a year later for the lowly-regarded movie MAN IN THE NET (1959)?  

Yes they did. In anticipation of making The Proud Rebel Ladd was concerned that Curtiz might bully his son. But that didn't happen. In her first film with Curtiz in 17 years Olivia de Havilland, who disliked working with the director, had friction with him once again, saying he was still a cruel man. After seeing the film, however, Olivia was pleased with the end results, saying Curtiz was the right director.

De Havilland got along very well with the Ladds, particularly David. They would remain friends, with David visiting Olivia at her Paris home on his honeymoon a few years later.

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I think a frequent 'mistake' people make (and I mean fans as well as critics) is that they compare a film made during an actor's prime with a film made during an actor's decline. In the case of Alan Ladd, not everything is going to be SHANE. Nor should it be. 

And I also think it's 'wrong' to compare this film to THE PROUD REBEL. It's not supposed to be THE PROUD REBEL. It's not a remake or a sequel of his earlier hits.

What ONE FOOT IN HELL is, in my view, is a high concept western. Where the revenge motif is taken to extremes. In a way it's a precursor to the much more violent spaghetti westerns that came into vogue later in the 60s. 

I feel it's unique in that Don Murray is actually playing the 'hero' who reforms at the end. And in any other production he would be the main character and receive top billing. But since Ladd is the one who got the project off the ground, and he's the star, we have the villain as the main character, which is a rarity in the western genre.

As for comparing Ladd to Wayne, they were totally different performers with different realities off screen. But what they do have in common is that both worked up to the end of their lives and were still considered stars at the time of their deaths.

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I liked Ladd in The Proud Rebel but he takes too much **** and Olivia De Havilland's beauty is nowhere to be seen in The Proud Rebel.

the first time I watched it I didn't pay too much attention to the credits and thought she was Jo Van Fleet.

:lol:

 

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23 minutes ago, NipkowDisc said:

I liked Ladd in The Proud Rebel but he takes too much **** and Olivia De Havilland's beauty is nowhere to be seen in The Proud Rebel.

She has an awful close-up at the end of THE PROUD REBEL. 

She was back to looking glamorous in LIBEL (1959) and LIGHT IN THE PIAZZA (1962).

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Alan Ladd's star status  was definitely in trouble at the end of his career. He hadn't had a hit in years and accepted second billing (for the first time in almost 20 years) to play a character supporting role in The Carpetbaggers.

Why any poster would call it "wrong" to mention The Proud Rebel is beyond me. I merely said that Rebel was his last good film while One Foot could be lumped in with all the disappointingly mediocre vehicles that, unfortunately, marked the final years of Ladd's career.

The Proud Rebel is not a particularly well known western today and fans should be aware of its existence and the fact that Alan Ladd at least appeared in one good film in his later years as an actor. As for Olivia's appearance in The Proud Rebel, she's playing a farm woman. Do you expect her to look glamourous? Besides that, I think she looks fine in the film anyway, her credible performance in the film a major asset, as well.

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Obviously it's not wrong to mention SHANE or THE PROUD REBEL but it's 'wrong' to compare a star's later film with those two, because these are different animals made with different production teams. At different studios. And ONE FOOT IN HELL should really be judged on its own merits as a work of fiction and a piece of western entertainment that is independent of other films.

It's like saying that someone should only watch CITIZEN KANE and forget about all of Orson Welles' later work. It's too easy to dismiss something because it's not the next CITIZEN KANE or the next SHANE or the next PROUD REBEL. I think that type of attitude, which is often exhibited by fans and critics, keeps others from discovering later films and judging them on their own merits and finding what is still good in them.

So why someone who is clearly an Alan Ladd fan would want to discourage others from enjoying all of Alan's films, good and bad, is what's beyond me.

As for Olivia's appearance in THE PROUD REBEL, there is no reason why she can't look like a lovely and beautiful farm wife. There's a double standard here, saying that it's okay for Olivia to look dowdy or frumpy in PROUD REBEL, but not okay for Alan to look grizzly or washed up in ONE FOOT IN HELL. 

We can discuss their acting performances, which are still quite good, and we can also discuss how they are photographed.

Incidentally Katharine Hepburn has a terrible close-up at the end of SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER made around the same period. She was furious with Joseph Mankiewicz for not shooting it with softer lighting. She wrote a letter to Tennessee Williams and said Mankiewicz had wrecked his story, which I think was her way of saying he had wrecked her performance in it. It could be argued that Curtiz was similarly undermining Olivia by the way he had her photographed in THE PROUD REBEL.

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As I recall, Jean Arthur didn't look all that fetching in "Shane".  Maybe Ladd had it in his contract that when he played in Westerns/Frontier-type films that the female lead could not look more attractive than he?

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8 minutes ago, midwestan said:

As I recall, Jean Arthur didn't look all that fetching in "Shane".  Maybe Ladd had it in his contract that when he played in Westerns/Frontier-type films that the female lead could not look more attractive than he?

That's an interesting theory. But then we have Mona Freeman as his love interest in BRANDED (1950) and she comes off quite well.

In the case of Arthur, she was already in her early 50s when she made SHANE and they did use a lot of soft lighting on her.

Olivia was in her early 40s when she made THE PROUD REBEL and recently had a baby. There is no reason why she had to look like Jo Van Fleet, per Nip. I hope Jo Van Fleet fans are not offended! :) 

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People see what they want to see (either that or their memories are faulty). There is nothing wrong with Olivia de Havilland's appearance in The Proud Rebel. She was 41 when she made the film and other 41 year old women probably wish they looked half as good. There's nothing resembling Jo Van Fleet about these images of her. Olivia was aging well when this film was made, as reflected by these photos.

Olivia de Havilland's Long Life | 50+ World - 50+ World

The Proud Rebel (1958) - IMDb

Caftan Woman: THE THIRD ANNUAL OLIVIA DE HAVILLAND BLOGATHON: Linnett Moore  in The Proud Rebel (1958)

 

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4 hours ago, midwestan said:

As I recall, Jean Arthur didn't look all that fetching in "Shane".  Maybe Ladd had it in his contract that when he played in Westerns/Frontier-type films that the female lead could not look more attractive than he?

Jean Arthur was 52 when she made Shane.     That is too old to have a son especially in the west at during that time period.     (de Wilde was 10 when the film was made).    

 

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ALAN LADD ventured overseas to make a "pablum" movie in '61 called DUEL OF THE CHAMPIONS.   Anyone ever seen it?  I've not seen it, but it was his 3rd-to-last movie.  The Leonard Maltin Guide said "Ladd looks bored". 

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46 minutes ago, Mr. Gorman said:

I thought SHANE was filmed in the summer of 1951.  Jean Arthur would've been 50 when "Shane" was shot.  (I looked up her birth date:  October 17, 1900). 

You're right about 1951, filmed in Wyoming.

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44 minutes ago, Mr. Gorman said:

ALAN LADD ventured overseas to make a "pablum" movie in '61 called DUEL OF THE CHAMPIONS.   Anyone ever seen it?  I've not seen it, but it was his 3rd-to-last movie.  The Leonard Maltin Guide said "Ladd looks bored". 

I have. It was held up for release in America (a sure sign something's wrong) and came to U.S. theatres after Ladd's death. It's been years since I sat through the thing. Also known as Horacio, there are cuts of varying lengths of the film, I believe, in circulation, and it's a film that floats around in public domain hell. I tend to think of it as probably being the worst film of his career.

I suppose it depends upon your mood when you see it as to how forgiving you can be, an aging, tired actor too old for his role looking uncomfortable as a Roman legionnaire. Ladd had a miserable time making the film in Yugoslavia with freezing cold conditions and walking off the set at one point (first time he ever did that) after he had been unpaid for 11 weeks by the Italian backers. Ladd knew it was stinker, afterward saying he'd never make a film under those kind of conditions again.

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