I Died A Thousand Times (1955)

STUART HEISLER

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

USA, 1955. . Screenplay by , based on his novel. Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .

Full-colour remake of High Sierra in which the Cinemascope upgrade requires that Humphrey Bogart be replaced by the jacked-out in the lead role.

He plays an ex-con who befriends a poor family which includes a daughter with a disability that breaks his secretly soft heart, inspiring him to pay for her to have restorative surgery before making his own plans for that ultimate of noir classic plots, the one big job before retiring for good.

Holing up in a rural cabin outside of Los Angeles with two unruly hoods (, ), he befriends the one man’s girlfriend () and even becomes owner of a sweet dog while arranging their scheme to knock over a luxury resort whose guests store their jewels in the lobby safe.

Even if you haven’t seen the original, you know that heist movies are either about the job going wrong, or the job goes right and the getaway is flawed, and it’s for you to discover the twists and turns of this stylish thriller whose details may not rewrite the book on the genre, but whose full-blooded performances make it thoroughly enjoyable.

Palance and Winters never quite make sense as a couple, and he with his magnificent face and large physique is somewhat overpowering for the complexity of the lead role. It takes a pretty big man to stand out in the screen format that, as Fritz Lang put it, is only good for snakes and funerals, but also makes it harder to really suss out the vulnerability that Palance is trying to put across and, ultimately, never really does. Following him through his brawls and gunfights, however, is a perfectly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, and the film does have its pleasures.

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