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Warlock is a fascinating yet frustrating CinemaScope Western, almost unique in the genre for being based on a literarily respectable novel--Oakley Hall's 1958 recasting of the Wyatt-Earp-in-Tombstone legend. As adapted by TV dramatist Robert Alan Aurthur, the tale focuses on three men: the elegant gambler/gunfighter/lawman-for-hire Blaisdell (Henry Fonda in the Earp part); his lethal partner and creepily possessive best friend Morgan (Anthony Quinn as a variation on Doc Holliday); and Johnny Gannon (Richard Widmark), a ranch cowboy more burdened with scruples than his fellow rowdies, who have made the silver-mining town of Warlock their violent playground. To reclaim their community, the townsfolk strike a bargain with the devil they don't know--Blaisdell--in hopes of being delivered from the devil they do, the cowboys and their cold-blooded boss McQuown (former MGM juve Tom Drake in the Ike Clanton role).
Fonda's and Widmark's characters evolve intriguingly; Blaisdell affords Western aficionados early hints of Fonda's badman Frank in Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, while Widmark's Gannon reforms, becomes town deputy, and has to go up against not only his old cronies but the hired marshal. Sad to say, despite its three strong leads and a script full of shootings, sadism, and no end of betrayals, the movie keeps bogging down from too much undigested backstory, too much talk, and Edward Dmytryk's flatfooted direction. Even the redoubtable cinematographer Joe MacDonald, who so stunningly shot John Ford's Earp-in-Tombstone classic My Darling Clementine 13 years earlier, disappoints with bland, featureless lighting better suited to a TV show. Speaking of which, future Star Trekker DeForest Kelley plays the only other McQuown rider with a conscience. --Richard T. Jameson --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.
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I'm not sure as to why "Warlock" has been relatively ignored over the years, though I think the film is derivative of other films. I think the generic Hollywood backlots where "Warlock" was undoubtedly filmed certainly detract from its overall allure. But simply put, "Warlock" fell through the cracks, and it's a film deserving of reexamination.
Part "High Noon," part "Shane," part "The Searchers," "Warlock" tells the tale of a town victimized by crime. They hire a gunfighter in the form of Henry Fonda, who arrives with a crippled sidekick (Anthony Quinn) in tow. Fonda's character becomes a semi-celebrity, granted carte blanche as he calmly strolls the streets adorned in shining pistols and dark suits. The cantankerous Quinn, lugging around a shotgun, watches Fonda's back while sipping champagne and taking care of the finances.
But the town (named Warlock) is anything but a simple job. A former love of Quinn's (Dorothy Malone) is a resident, and he wants her back. Richard Widmark also resides here, and he's none too happy about the hiring of the gunfighters, sensing the community should stand up for itself. A young woman (Dolores Michaels) also catches Fonda's eye, and for the first time he begins to wonder about settling down. All of these emotional dramas play out, having tragic circumstances.Read more ›
I ALSO BELIEVE IT IS A HIGHLY UNDERRATED FILM THAT HAS BEEN LOST IN THE ARCHIVES FAR TOO LONG.
I ALSO FOUND ANOTHER GREAT FONDA MOVIE THAT I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR, FOR YEARS, AND THAT IS,( SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION, WITH PAUL NEWMAN ) ANOTHER ONE BURIED IN THE ARCHIVES FAR TOO LONG WAITING TO BE RE'DISCOVERED.
Most recent customer reviews
I saw this movie on TCM and decided when I saw it priced at only $6.99 on Amazon that it was a must have to my collection. Read morePublished on Sept. 6 2013 by G Cooke
Richard Widmark in this movie was kind of hesitant to go along with his brother for being a vigilante and swung the other way to the law and with that makes it a bit confusing to... Read morePublished on July 23 2013 by Victor Scheepe
For those who love westerns with movie stars who are no longer with us and for a genre that barely exists today, this is a great western.Published on Nov. 29 2011 by garymck
Warlock is a town in the West ,one that is experiencing an epidemic of lawlessness,deliberately fostered by a local rancher ,Alec McQuon (Tom Drake ). Read morePublished on Sept. 12 2003 by F. J. Harvey