Ride a Crooked Trail (1958)

Audie Murphy, Gia Scala, Walter Matthau, Henry Silva,
Ride a Crooked Trail is a movie starring Audie Murphy, Gia Scala, and Walter Matthau. Fugitive bank robber Joe Maybe steals the identity of a marshal and rides into a town whose judge asks Joe to act as town marshal but an old flame...
  • 6.7 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Borden Chase, George Bruce, Writer:
  • Jesse Hibbs, Director:
  • Howard Pine, Producer:
8 / 10

For this kind of film, this is as good as it gets!

For a modestly budgeted, unambitious horse opera, this is as good as it gets. Audie Murphy's Western vehicles of the 50s don't command the respect of Randolph Scott's or Joel McCrea's, but they are just as entertaining. A few of them ("No Name On The Bullet," "Posse From Hell") have an unusual edge that makes them noteworthy, but this one simply transcends its limitations to be a damned good entertainment. Walter Matthau steals every scene he's in as an alcoholic judge, while Murphy's subtly nervous performance as the would-be outlaw pretending he's a respected lawman may remind one of David Janssen as TV's "The Fugitive." Audie reportedly was uncomfortable with romantic scenes, but here he handles some innuendo-laden dialogue with Gia Scala quite nicely. Henry Silva and Mort Mills provide some surprisingly restrained (for this sort of thing) villainy. The premise (good-at-heart outlaw is reformed by wearing a badge) was old hat, but the execution is great! Set your expectations for a medium budgeted Western with no pretensions, and you won't be disappointed. You may even be pleasantly surprised.

7 / 10

great audie murphy western

i really enjoyed this western as i always liked audie murphy westerns. also a great performance by walter matthau as the crusty old judge. also gia scala is great as the bad girl with a big heart

i wish they would show this, other audie murphy movies and all the 50's westerns

from universal-international on tcm. also what do we have to do to get these great old western from universal on DVD? "ride a crooked trail" rates up there with me with "the cimmaron kid" "night passage" "the duel at silver creek" and the "unforgiven" as audie's great westerns. they put out old black & white westerns from the 30's and 40's from other studios but why don't they put universal's great color westerns from the 50's out on DVD

7 / 10

Middle of the Street.

Ride a Crooked Trail is directed by Jesse Hibbs and adapted to screenplay by Borden Chase from a story written by George Bruce. It stars Audie Murphy, Walter Matthau, Gia Scala, Leo Gordon, Henry Silva and Eddie Little. A CinemaScope/Eastman Color production, music is by Joseph Gershenson and cinematography by Harold Lipstein.

A blend of the breezy and the beefy here as Audie saddles up as Joe Maybe, a bank robber who after assuming the identity of the detective who was sent to capture him, winds up as the sheriff of a corrupt town. Ironically it's the town he and his dastardly cohorts had planned for their next big robbery. But as Joe insinuates himself into the company of the town's better citizens, he begins to doubt his dark side.

It's pretty routine as per the bad man trying to turn good axis of Western movie plotting, but there's a good sense of fun running throughout. Murphy himself seems to really be enjoying himself in the role of Joe Maybe. Leading the front of frivolity is Matthau as the town judge, his capacity for alcohol is as legendary as his ability to find a quip or sarcasm in the most trying of situations. Many of the scenes shared between the two men are most funny, be it hangovers, court room shenanigans or generally sounding each other out, they make for a great pair of characters.

Of course all this good fun has to ease off for the plot to take its darker turn. Which brings in the villains and the action scenes just as Joe's conscience starts to gnaw away at him. Costuming is appealing, especially when modelled by Scala, Gershenson provides another one of his lively Western musical scores and Lipstein's Scope photography makes good use of the gorgeous scenery. It's a bit creaky in parts and Hibbs sometimes lets the pace sag, but this is good entertainment for Audie and Matthau fans. 7/10

8 / 10

showcase for Mattheau

This was a good Westrn, pretty much of a formula Western of Hollywood from 1950 to 1990, in which the hero begins as a bad guy. One wonders if a Western hero could ever have started out good to be a Hollywood hero. The answer is "no". Murphy plays an outlaw who assumes the identity of a lawman whom he sees fall off a cliff. He becomes a celebrity in a town where the law in a roguish judge played by Walter Mattheau. The movie is more of a showcase for him than anything, and he does brilliantly. People who know who Audie Murphy really is show up with ulterior motives, and Murphy finds himself in the middle. No doubt, most people will find the main character's part a bit formula, but likewise, most people will enjoy Mattheau very much. A lot of likable aspects to this story. Not packed with gunplay, but there are several guns going off. Enough action to keep 98% of the audience interested. Lots to like.

10 / 10

Truly an uplifting story, with moral standing's ahead of its time

I would have to say, walter matthau in this early supporting performance was truly a stage presence to have in a film like this. This movie being one that shows the lines and decisions that a born tough guy must make to decide whats really whats truly dear to him. Sort of a shadow to Audie Murphy's character was the young boy, who grew up also in a saloon, but never stood a chance to grow up straight until a man, such as himself took a stand against injustice and only then, was the young boy cured of the sins he was born into...

Excellent choice if you want to know what moral 50's Hollywood wanted to put out there.

Ritchie Fontaine