Watch There Was a Crooked Man...
- 2 hr 6 min
In the 1970 Western comedy-drama, There Was a Crooked Man..., Kirk Douglas plays Paris Pitman Jr., a charismatic and cunning criminal who is sentenced to ten years in a remote Arizona territorial prison. The prison is run by the strict and moralistic Warden Lopeman (played by Henry Fonda), who is determined to keep his inmates in line and rehabilitate them. Despite Lopeman's efforts, Pitman quickly starts to scheme and manipulate his fellow prisoners and the staff to gain power and plan an ambitious escape. Along the way, he meets a motley crew of characters, including the corrupt Captain corrupt of the guards (Hume Cronyn), the prison doctor (John Randolph), and a naive inmate named Cyrus McNutt (Warren Oates). As Pitman's plans become more and more elaborate, he draws in his fellow prisoners and sets off a chain of events that leads to a riot and a bid for freedom. The film plays with themes of power, corruption, morality, and manipulation, as Pitman tests the boundaries of his own conscience and the limits of those around him. At the heart of the film is Douglas's performance as Paris Pitman Jr. He imbues the character with a sense of charm, wit, and intelligence that allows him to manipulate those around him, even as he faces the consequences of his actions. Fonda provides a strong counterpoint as the morally upright warden, struggling to maintain order in a difficult situation, and Cronyn adds a touch of deliciously villainous energy as the corrupt captain. The film was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who had a long and distinguished career in Hollywood and was known for his work on films like All About Eve and Cleopatra. There Was a Crooked Man... represents a departure from his more serious work, but he brings a deft touch to the material, balancing the humor and drama effectively. One of the most striking aspects of the film is its visual style. The prison setting is portrayed as a dusty, sunbaked landscape, with sparse vegetation and harsh light. The inmates are dressed in ragged, worn-out clothes, and the interiors of the prison are spartan and austere. However, Mankiewicz also takes advantage of the vastness and beauty of the Western landscape, using wide shots and sweeping camera movements to give a sense of scale and scope. Overall, There Was a Crooked Man... is an entertaining and engaging film, full of memorable performances and clever twists. It is a testament to the talents of its cast and crew, and a reminder of the enduring appeal of the Western as a genre.