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Friday, July 31, 2015

These Thousand Hills (1959)

A cowboy (Don Murray) from Oregon arrives in Montana and joins up with a trail herd as a bronco buster. But he is determined to make a name for himself and become an important man. He uses a saloon girl (Lee Remick) in his rise to the top but she's not decent enough for a future Senator's wife so instead he romances a respectable woman (Patricia Owens). But his past will come back to haunt him. Westerns were so prolific in the 1950s decade that many good westerns got lost in the stampede. This fine western is one of them. Based on the A.B. Guthrie Jr. novel and directed by Richard Fleischer (20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA), the film is heavy with strong characterizations and a solid moral dilemma for its protagonist. It's difficult to side with Murray's character as he benefits from exploiting others while wearing the cloak of respectability. While the movie's resolution leaves some unanswered questions, the film places thought over action. Performances are fine especially by Remick as the punching bag of a brutish rancher (Richard Egan, also good) and Stuart Whitman as Murray's ill fated partner. There's a lovely title song by Harry Warren and Ned Washington that Leigh Harline incorporates into his underscore. With Albert Dekker, Jean Willes, Harold J. Stone and Royal Dano.

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