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Blu-ray Review A Few Words About A few words about…™ There Was a Crooked Man... – in Blu-ray (1 Viewer)

Robert Harris

Senior HTF Member
Feb 8, 1999
Real Name
Robert Harris
There Was a Crooked Man..., with Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda in the leads, is not the typical film that one might expect from one of the most literate of Hollywood legends, Joseph Mankiewicz.

It's a wry western, that winks at the material form which it is made - and might leave some viewers uncertain of where it's going and why.

I've not seen it since 1970, and from my perspective it stands the test of time beautifully, helped at least in part by the gorgeous image harvest, which pops of the screen with crystal clarity and perfectly a honed color palette.

Easiest to quote Vincent Canby's December 1970 review from the New York Times:

Although "There Was A Crooked Man. . . ." is a movie of the sort of taste, intelligence and somewhat bitter humor I associate with Mr. Mankiewicz who, in real life, is one of America's most sophisticated, least folksy raconteurs. "There Was a Crooked Man. . . ." is the veteran movie maker's first Western, but it is somehow illuminated by his awareness of the heritage of old Hollywood, epecially in the roles of Mr. Douglas and Mr. Fonda, who play variations on their mythical movie selves. The mixtures of moods and genres require some patience on our part. It's worth it, I think, for "There Was A Crooked Man . . ." is full of what seem to be (but aren't) the old-fashioned virtues of commercial moviemaking. Mr. Douglas and Mr. Fonda are in splendid shape —Hollywood stars performing with the kind of ease and wit that comes with nondebilitating age. "There Was A Crooked Man . . ." is really a duel between two men, one good, one bad, and it's these smaller, more civilized confrontations, done with irony and wit, that make the film one of the more pleasant things you're likely to see this season."

Written by David Newman and Robert Benton, who were behind Bonnie and Clyde.

Photographed by Harry Stradling, Jr.

A wonderfully fun film in all regards, and a gorgeous addition to the Warner Archive library.

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Yes

Highly Recommended


Randy Korstick

Senior HTF Member
Feb 24, 2000
Never seen this one for some reason and I'm a Western and Kirk Douglas fan. I think its because it doesn't look like a traditional western. Am I right?

Billy Batson

Senior HTF Member
Feb 19, 2008
Real Name
Good news, this arrived in the UK today. Bad news, my plasma gave up the ghost yesterday. So a new Paramount OLED arrives on Tuesday, I'm then away for a few days, & then it's TV set-up time, so it'll be next weekend before I give it a spin.


Supporting Actor
Jul 28, 2008
Real Name
mike schlesinger
Loved it in 1970, still love it and even did a Trailer From Hell for it (below). I once ran my 'Scope 16 for some friends, and at the reel change, one of them complained he didn't like it. I asked why, and he replied, "You never know what's going to happen next." I retorted, "Y'know, most people would consider that an asset rather than a liability."


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