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Josh Steinberg

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On paper, There Was A Crooked Man… has all the ingredients necessary for a shot at movie greatness: a first rate cast, a pair of screenwriters coming off a breakthrough hit, and a director with many genuinely excellent films to his credit.  And yet, despite all of the talent involved, the film never quite comes together the way it should. 



There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)



Released: 19 Sep 1970
Rated: R
Runtime: 126 min




Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Genre: Comedy, Western



Cast: Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Hume Cronyn
Writer(s): David Newman, Robert Benton



Plot: A charming but totally ruthless criminal is sent to a remote Arizona prison. He enlists the help of his cellmates in an escape attempt with the promise of sharing his hidden loot.



IMDB rating: 6.9
MetaScore: N/A...

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old mole

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Steinberg needs to read Robert Harris' review along with the included Vincent Canby review. He totally misses the wonderful the wry irony of the film.
 

Robert Crawford

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Josh,

Looks like you struck a nerve with your film opinion.;) Oh well, just call them as you see them.:)

Thanks for your review as I will be purchasing this Blu-ray in due time.
 

Josh Steinberg

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As you like to point out, comedy is very subjective.

I know this film has its fans and I wanted to be one. Alas, it is what it is. Contemporary reviews from the period of the original release were all over the place. The Times liked it but that was by no means a unanimous opinion among top critics at the time.

The important thing here, I think, is that Warner Archive has done it’s usual A+ work in bringing the film to disc. I don’t know how many new fans that will create but I do believe that longtime fans of the film will be delighted with the presentation here, which is why my overall rating on the disc is higher than my rating for the film’s production.
 

Wayne Klein

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I enjoyed the low key wry, ironic sense of humor of the film. Joe M’s direction should and could have been a bit sharper.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Joe M’s direction should and could have been a bit sharper.

There could’ve been a really great movie here. Coming out just okay (with some very wonderful moments interspersed within) seems beneath the talent involved. I wish I had liked it as much as I had wanted to.
 

Wayne Klein

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My issue is that the direction makes it come across as a standard 1970’s TV movie. The tone is also inconsistent and doesn’t mesh as well as it could. I feel that JM’s injury, medication and being in a motorized wheelchair probably impacted the imagination of the direction. Then again JM was always somewhat of a pedestrian director when it came to staging a scene.
 

Capt D McMars

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I liked this film, reminded me of another one film during this era, (1967) Waterhole #3 with James Coburn, Bruce Dern and the wonderful Carol O'Connor.
 

John Skoda

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Whether it was a good idea or not, the more modern filmmaking touches are intended. There's many things in the script you would have never seen in an older western, like homosexuality and making fun of racial attitudes. Even the artwork on the package, using the graphic from the original poster, says "this is a 70s movie!"
 

John Skoda

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Come to think of it, one of the funniest things in this movie is when the black house staff is in the kitchen intelligently assessing the situation, but then when it's time to serve the food, the housekeeper goes out with the tray of fried chicken and immediately starts rolling her eyes and putting on her Aunt Jemima act for the white folks.
 

John Maher_289910

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I saw this when it was originally in theaters, and my only memory of it (other than, "oh, there's Lance Rock from BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS"), is that I didn't like a single character in it. I never saw it, again.
 

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