Stranger on the Run (1967)

Henry Fonda, Anne Baxter, Michael Parks, Dan Duryea,
Former inmate and drunkard Ben Chamberlain arrives in a railroad town looking for a woman, causing the railroad police deputies to manhunt for Ben.
  • 6.3 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2021-08-01 Added:
  • Dean Riesner, Reginald Rose, Writer:
  • Don Siegel, Director:
  • Richard E. Lyons, Producer:
8 / 10

Something of a gem

I'd love to know more about how this made-for-TV movie came about. It's got Don Siegel for it's director and Henry Fonda leading a first rate cast -- Dan Duryea is a stand out as the older, wiser gun-hand well past his prime (although he's actual a year younger that Fonda, Duryea looks at least 15 years older, but I gather he was in ill health). Not to give too much away, Fonda is a bum who drifts into town and upsets the apple cart by inquiring about the sister of a friend. The story builds quickly and is intriguing, but it is the characterizations of the players that give the movie it's greatest appeal. Even the minor characters are given some depth and not just the stereotypical kind of depth that is generally used as a kind of short-hand. The production values are just what they should be and the photography is excellent. I would suggest you go out of your way to try to catch this little gem of a western.

8 / 10

Top Notch TV-Movie Western

Seemingly unlimited by its humble origins as a TV-movie, STRANGER ON THE RUN delivers at every level. This project is tautly and intelligently directed by Don Siegel, with every scene counting for both characters and storyline. A great deal of Old West atmosphere is generated by the production, and there is a good score by Leonard Rosenman. But for most viewers, the cast will be the biggest draw for this movie. It's a mighty impressive lineup: Henry Fonda, Dan Duryea, Anne Baxter, Michael Parks, Lloyd Bochner, Sal Mineo. Everyone gives a committed performance, with Fonda (reprising a variant of the 'wrong man' role), Parks and Duryea especially impressive. This is one of Michael Parks best acting turns on film, a must-see for all his fans. In supporting roles there is solid work from Zalman King, Walter Burke and Tom Reese, all stalwarts of TV westerns. Only Sal Mineo seems underused here: he simply doesn't have enough to do, and it's frustrating to see him wasted like this. STRANGER ON THE RUN makes a perfect case for the quality TV-movies could achieve.

7 / 10

Very good western, strong cast and plot

I was very impressed with this, and nearly gave it an 8. (I can't remember the last time I gave a film 9.)

Henry Fonda (wearing a rather obvious wig) proves again his versatility, this time as a drunk. It's not giving much away to say that he does redeem himself, but not in a super-heroical way. Dan Duryea is always excellent value, though I did wonder at his apparently wearing the same glasses (furtively)to read newsprint and for distance vision. (Usually one needs different prescriptions.)

I saw the film courtesy of Youtube, and the sound wasn't great in places, so I didn't grasp why the men that Fonda came across were so keen to ambush the railroad police (and some of them did seem rather rash in the gunfight when it came to firing in full view of the other side).

The "town" where much of the action took place looked realistic, and Anne Baxter as Valverda Johnson was reasonably attractive as a self-sufficient homesteader without having the unbelievable glamour of so many leading ladies in Westerns.

The photography was good, especially a panoramic scene of a train entering the town.

Well worth viewing.

7 / 10

A first-class western

This first-class western was made for television and directed by none other than Don Siegel who assembled a first-rate cast, (Henry Fonda, Anne Baxter, Michael Parks, Dan Duryea, Sal Mineo, Bernie Hamilton and Madlyn Rhue), yet not many people have seen it or even heard it. Indeed, this is the kind of film that had it been given a proper cinema release might have become something of a cult movie.

Fonda is the drunk who rolls into town in search of a girl called Alma only to meet with a wall of silence. It seems that Alma (Rhue) is the town tramp who has attracted the wrong kind of attention. It's also not the kind of town that welcomes strangers. That's just the beginning of a highly unusual plot that doesn't quite go in the direction you might expect. All the performances are excellent, (especially those of Baxter and Duryea), and while it may not be the best thing Siegel ever did, as part of the Siegel canon it has a lot to recommend it.

7 / 10

A whole lot of luck

One of Henry Fonda's best films from the Sixties is this made for TV film Stranger On The Run. In fact it's better than some of the films that did get a theatrical release. It's a western directed by Don Siegel who among other of his films directed John Wayne in his swan song The Shootist.

This one is more like The Most Dangerous Game out west. Henry Fonda is hardly the big game hunter type. A whole lot of luck and the kindness of some strangers is what makes him survive.

As Henry Fonda remarks when he gets kicked off a freight train where he hitched a ride, there's a whole lot of law for a town that's hardly a whistle stop. That's because this is a railroad town and railroad cop Michael Parks and a flock of deputies have made it their headquarters.

Fonda gets noticed by Parks and his deputies when he asks about a woman played by Madelyn Rhue. When Rhue turns up dead later, Fonda is the one immediately suspected and he runs.

But there are other issues here. The men are bored and Parks for his own amusement gives Fonda a horse and a head start and then sends a posse after him. But Fonda finds help from a few people and it gets a whole lot more difficult than he thought.

Some other good performances that Siegel got from his cast were from Anne Baxter as the farm widow who has a son Michael Burns with the posse, but Fonda helps her and she helps Fonda. There's also Dan Duryea as an old marshal who realizes Parks is developing a real taste for the sanguinary aspects of his job.

Fonda is no wild west hero, he's at his best playing a Mr. Every Man as he does here. Somebody up there likes him however, you can't explain his survival any other way.