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Monday, March 7, 2011

Secret Of Convict Lake (1951)

In the 1870s, five convicts escape from a Nevada prison through a blizzard and the snowbound mountains into California where they find a small settlement populated entirely by women. But these women are no shrinking violets and they keep the convicts at bay but for how long? The film becomes a stand off between the lonely women and conniving convicts eventually ending in a violent finale. Directed by Michael Gordon (PILLOW TALK) and based on a legend (though the film's narrator claims it's based on fact). this is no 7 BRIDES FOR 7 BROTHERS! The sexual tension has a high profile here, notably in a psychotic loose cannon (Richard Hylton), a rapist and murderer and in the film's best performance, Ann Dvorak (SCARFACE) as a high strung sexually repressed spinster. The film's title is a clever ruse as we keep waiting for the "secret" to be revealed but, in fact, there is no secret until the very end of the film. The film stars Glenn Ford as the convict hell bent on revenge and Gene Tierney as the most fetching of the ladies. Wonderful score by the underrated Sol Kaplan. With Ethel Barrymore as the settlement's matriarch, Zachary Scott as Ford's malevolent nemesis, Barbara Bates, Cyril Cusack, Helen Westcott, Jeanette Nolan and Ruth Donnelly. If the opportunity to see it comes your way, don't pass it up.

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