A Man Alone

A gang of crooks installed at the bank have taken over the small Western town, even the sheriff.

They plunder the region and their leader is still a member of the community in good standing, a mainstay, a pillar.

The title character observes it is a rotten town with rotten people, one man’s opinion. The gang make him the scapegoat for some terrible murders committed in a stagecoach robbery.

The sheriff is sick in bed with yellow fever, he has a daughter with a hope chest in the cellar.

The design of this house in the adobe style is noteworthy, and the initial sequence of the man’s plight in the desert, losing his horse, finding the bodies, riding into town on a stage horse in a sandstorm at night.

The boss leads a solitary vigil when the bodies are brought in, standing at the front of the church he surveys the row of coffins in candlelight, watched by the man.

“An okay offering” was Variety’s phrase, the Republic Trucolor gets its praise. Tom Milne (Time Out Film Guide) finds it “eminently watchable” if “sometimes a little too ponderously deliberate.” Film4 reports “just a hint of originality” in a classic Western.

“Solemn,” says Halliwell’s Film Guide, and “slow-moving”.



The femme fatale, a Communist prison, an international crook to broker dealings, and a petty smuggler to ferry the victim.

Variety objected to the opening scene, which makes for a formidable villain.

To be rid of the whole ruckus is to redeem the time with a very charming companion (Variety praised the Trucolor and Naturama widescreen, all shot in Lisbon).


The Safecracker

The Abwehr have a ring of spies in Britain, the list is kept in a safe surrounded by a grand chateau with a high wall in Belgium.

For this job, three men are qualified, two are available, one isn’t keen, the last is chosen, a veteran of the Great War and a considerable expert on objets de vertu, now under lock and key.

To be the finest locksmith in the land and live with your mother is to keep a Medici cup locked away, he steals it.

To have a film actress to one’s weekend mistress and a sports car as well is to possess the emperor Nero’s ring, he steals it.

To be a British commando on a daring raid into occupied territory is to take hold of a tiara once owned by Eleanor of Aquitaine, his very last caper.

The point, which was sadly lost on Bosley Crowther of the New York Times (“a good, not great, suspense thriller”), is that his mother clutches to her bosom a full pardon for her son, from the government.

Milland’s film, just between Robert Hamer’s The Spider and the Fly and Terence Young’s Triple Cross, “one-twelfth of a dirty dozen... not much pull as drama or comedy,” according to Halliwell’s Film Guide.

As far as the Germans know, all he wanted was a rare carving in a chateau showcase.


Panic in Year Zero!

War destroys the great cities of North America and Europe, retaliation swiftly follows, a paterfamilias out on a fishing trip with his wife and children gets them to a cave in the far hills with provisions and arms against the lawlessness that prevails.

A great work by a seasoned director who knows Virgin Spring and a lot else besides, filmed prodigiously on rural highways and in the back-country.


Hostile Witness

Q.C. in 1943, now he can get a madam off at the Old Bailey with all her girls in tow, “juries like his face,” it’s the talk of the criminal underworld.

Wife died in the war, daughter’s killed in a hit-and-run. Milland makes a special study of this horror, and the subsequent murder of a retired judge, a neighbor and friend.

Our man is in the dock, framed, grief unhinged him, the judge killed the girl.

Lang’s Ministry of Fear is very nicely brought into play.

It’s a long story, full of sound and fury unfilmed, death of the prisoner in a fighter attack, his rage at the judge and Q.C. who tried him, his subsequent career.

Milland plays up a bit with a Rex Harrison twang, Sylvia Syms as a junior makes a perfect study of it, Felix Aylmer the judge, Raymond Huntley the opposing counsel, etc.

TV Guide, “the complex plot twists only confuse.” Halliwell’s Film Guide, “flatly boring”.