(director: Gerd Oswald; screenwriters: Emmett Murphy/Leonard Heideman; cinematographer: Ernest Laszlo; editor: David Bretherton; music: Albert Glasser; cast:  Sterling Hayden (John Garth),  Anita Ekburg (Valerie Horvat),  Anthony Steel (Reverend Blake), Peter Walker (Herb Garth), Robert Adler (Lundy), Gage Clarke (Lawyer Griggs), Sydney Smith (Judge Frisbee), Stanley Adams, (Dr. Jackson),  Iphigenie Catiglioni (Lili), Jerry Barclay (Mingo), John Wengraf (Louis Horvat), Malcolm Afterbury (Sheriff), Tom McKee (Dave Carlin) Darryl Durran (Earl Davis); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal R. Makelim; United Artists; 1957-B/W)

“In a curious way is somewhat interesting.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A B/W courtroom drama, in the guise of a Rashomon knockoff. It’s a B-Western (filled with flashbacks to resolve two murders and a wounding of the titled character). It’s competently directed by Gerd Oswald (“Crime of Passion”/”Screaming Mimi”), and tartly written by Emmett Murphy and Leonard Heideman.

John Garth is a respected rancher who partners in a ranch, in
Limrock, with brother Herb (Peter Walker), that they inherited from their deceased dad. Garth’s a Civil War hero on the Union side, and a popular figure in town.

With ranch-hands Lundy (
Robert Adler) and Mingo (Jerry Barclay), Garth visits the home of the European immigrants, Louis (John Wengraf) and Lili Horvat (Iphigenie Catiglioni), the nagging rich parents of his estranged wife Valerie (Anita Ekburg). We see only Garth enter and don’t see what happens inside, but the result is the parents are killed by gunfire and Valerie is badly wounded.

Garth pleads self-defense and lawyers up with the hero-worshiping old-timer Griggs (
Gage Clarke), while prosecutor Carlin (Tom McKee) calls it murder. Valerie survives but is too weak to be called as a witness. The bachelor pastor, Blake (Anthony Steel), takes the witness stand, and is accused by the defense of being Valerie’s lover. Through the minister’s conflicting testimony we learn how he became entangled with Valerie. That she wanted someone to help her with her marital problems and he was eager to help. But Garth accuses him of trying to steal his wife after they meet for a few times.

It comes to an unconvincing conclusion, revealing that brother George is secretly in love with Valerie.

It isn’t good enough story-wise to be another Rashomon, but in a curious way is somewhat interesting.

REVIEWED ON 7/21/2020  GRADE: C+