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Face of a Fugitive

1959 | 16:9 | Color | Quality: Very Good

Fred MacMurray

Lin McCarthy

Dorothy Green


While being escorted to jail, bank robber Jim Larson (Fred MacMurray) manages to get the upper hand on his captor and escapes with the help of his brother. But as they make their getaway, his brother and the pursuing lawman gun each other down leaving the stunned Jim alone making his way towards the Mexican border. All goes according to plan until Jim intervenes in a dispute with the ruthless local Ponderosa owner Alan Baxter and helps inexperienced sheriff Lin McCarthy... which introduces McCarthy's pretty sister Dorothy Green into the proceedings. Suddenly gaining the respect of the local citizenry and law enforcement, Jim assumes a new identity and sees a chance to start over... but can he ever truly escape his past?

Although Fred MacMurray said he never was comfortable in westerns, he always gave a pretty good account of himself in the genre and does so again here in Face Of A Fugitive as a troubled man who looks back on his life with many regrets. Supporting MacMurray are Lin McCarthy as the tough but green sheriff, and Dorothy Green as his sister and widow who falls for MacMurray. Look out to for the smiling youthful James Coburn as a nasty hoodlum, clearly showing his potential, before his successful appearance in Magnificent Seven by John Sturges. The characters are written with complexity here. The bad guy, for instance, is Alan Baxter. He has possession of some grazing land that belongs to the public and he keeps fencing it off, despite the dire warnings of good-guy sheriff Francis De Sales. That's "bad", true, but Baxter himself has no desire to kill the sheriff unless it's absolutely necessary. And he's related to MacMurray's new girl friend, so allegiances aren't simply lined up, one side against the other, as on a checker board. Nice cinematography by Wilfred Cline shows barren backgrounds and foregrounds, ruined buildings, and lush outdoors. There is also a thrilling and enterprising early musical score from Jerry Goldsmith in the day when he was still billed Jerrald Goldsmith. This absorbing picture was well directed by Paul Wendkos, making an acceptable second-feature western in rare economy. Paul was a fine craftsman who directed all kinds of genres - drama, thriller, action, WWII, comedy, Mafia movies, such as Deadline Assault, The Flight, The Chase, The Great Escape : The Untold Story, The story of a Mafia Wife, Celebrity, The Cry for Love, Betrayal, A Woman Called Moses, The Tattered Web, The Mephisto Walz, Johnny Tiger, Bad Seed, The Taking of Flight 847, The Execution, Awakening of Candra , Gidget, Gidget Goes Hawaiian, Gidget Goes to Rome, and westerns including Guns of Magnificent Seven and The Ordeal of Dr Mudd, among others.

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