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A TIME FOR KILLING (aka: THE LONG RIDE HOME) (director: Phil Karlson; screenwriters: Halsted Welles/from the novel “The Southern Blade” by Colby Wolford and Harley Duncan; cinematographer: Kenneth Peach; editor: Roy Livingston; music: Mundell Lowe; cast: Inger Stevens (Emily Biddle), Glenn Ford (Maj. Tom Wolcott), Paul Petersen (Blue Lake), Timothy Carey (Billy Cat), Kenneth Tobey (Sgt. Cleehan), Richard X. Slattery (Cpl. Paddy Darling), Harrison J. Ford (Lt Shaffer), Kay E. Kuter (Owelson), Dick Miller (Zollicoffer), Emile Meyer (Col. Harries), Marshall Reed (Stedner), George Hamilton (Capt. Dorrit Bentley), Max Baer Jr. (Sgt. Luther Liskell), Todd Armstrong (Lt. ‘Pru’ Prudessing), Duke Hobbie (Lt. Frist), Dean Stanton (Sgt. Dan Way), James Davidson (Little Mo), Charlie Briggs (Sgt. Kettlinger), Craig Curtis (Bagnef), Jay Ripley (Cpl. Timothy Dwight Lovingwood), Dean Goodhill (Bruce); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Joe Brown; Columbia Pictures; 1967)

“Brazenly tells how war is corrupting.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Phil Karlson (“The Silencers”/”The Wrecking Crew”/”The Big Cat”) efficiently directs this grisly western that brazenly tells how war is corrupting and can lead men into becoming killing machines. It’s based on the 1961 novel “The Southern Blade” by Colby Wolford and Harley Duncan and is written by Halsted Welles.

Nearing the end of the bloody Civil War, after four years, Confederate prisoners led by Captain Bentley (George Hamilton) escape from Fort Hawkes, Utah. On the run, heading for the Mexican border, the deceitful Bentley, vowing that the war will never end for him, ambushes a detail of Union soldiers and take as hostage the attractive Emily Biddle (Inger Stevens), a missionary engaged to the fort’s second-in-command, Maj. Tom Wolcott (Glenn Ford).The obstinate Col. Harries (Emile Meyer) orders the reluctant Wolcott to take a detail and go after the Rebs, even as Wolcott reasons with his commander that the war is almost over and even if the Rebs are caught they’ll soon be released.

The Rebs hole up in a Mexican bordelloin the Arizona badlands, near the Mexican border. Instead of escaping or returning home, madman Bentley waits for the Union soldiers to catch up and has his sadist sergeant, Luther Liskell (Max Baer), kill the Union dispatch rider carrying the news that the war is over. It results in the lives of soldiers on both sides killed unnecessarily and of the Major illegally crossing the border into Mexico to defend the honor of his missionary girlfriend who was raped and beaten by Bentley.

The savage nature of the film was carried off in an edgy way, making it play out better than the preachy and much too talkative script. Ford can play this earnest soldier role in his sleep and gives the film the lift it craved to be somewhat better than a B film.

The 35-year-old Inger Stevens committed suicide a year after the film’s release in 1969, which stunned the Hollywood community.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”