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FACE OF A FUGITIVE (director: Paul Wendkos; screenwriters: story by Peter Dawson/David T. Chantler/Dan Ullman; cinematographer: Wilfrid Cline; editor: Jerome Thoms; music: Jerrold Goldsmith; cast: Fred MacMurray (Jim Larsen/Ray Kincaid), Lin McCarthy (Mark Riley), Alan Baxter (Reed Williams), James Coburn (Purdy), Dorothy Green (Ellen Bailey), Gina Gillespie (Alice Bailey), Francis deSales (Deputy), Myrna Fahey (Janet), Ron Hayes (Danny Larsen), Harrison Lewis (Charlie, bartender), Paul Burns (Jake, barber); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Heilwell; Columbia; 1959)
Though Fred MacMurray gives a good performance, he’s too old for the part.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Even a talented arty director like Paul Wendkos(“The Burglar”/”Gidget”/”The Mephisto Waltz”) can’t make this contrived B western convincing. Though Fred MacMurray gives a good performance, he’s too old for the part. It’s based on the story by Paul Dawson, and is weakly written by David T. Chantler and Dan Ullman.

Fred MacMurray is bank robber Jim Larsen, in the Old West, who while in handcuffs escapes from the kindly deputy (Francis deSales) taking him by train to prison to serve a possible 10 year sentence. Unfortunately Jim’s younger brother (Ron Hayes) interferes, when not asked to, and as a result the deputy and the young brother kill each other. Jim, blamed for the murder, escapes by horse and then takes the alias of Ray Kincaid, a mining company man, as he travels by rail to the frontier town of Tangle Blue. There he falls in love at first sight with the single parent redhead widow Ellen Bailey (Dorothy Green). Though only planning to stay in town overnight to hide out, he ends up getting deputized and the next day heroically saves Ellen’s stubborn wannabe law book quoting lawyer brother, Mark Riley (Lin McCarthy), the temporary acting sheriff, from the thuggish cattle baron Reed Williams (Alan Baxter). The cattle baron says if the barbed wire fence he put on public land is cut again by the sheriff, it would mean his death. A snarling James Coburn is one of Reed’s nasty henchmen.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”