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Tuesday, 28 September 2010

THE CROSSFIRE TRAIL

After watching Tom Selleck's Monty Walsh, I was eager to see what he would make of this Louis L'amour novel which is far more of a traditional western.

Like Walsh this TV-movie was made for the TNT network which can make it difficult to see in the UK, but thanks to an American friend who sent me over five of Selleck's TNT movies on DVD. It was directed by the excellent Simon Wincer who understands that to make a western believable character is all important. Gunfights, horse chases and saloon brawls are pretty much a given but without that all important character development they are just trimmings - Selleck excels in the kind of role once favoured by the likes of John Wayne.

John Wayne of course played Hondo in another Louis L'amour adaptation and there is more than a touch of Hondo Lane to Selleck's Rafe Covington - in fact this is the kind of movie that would have very much suited mid-period Wayne.

I recently read the novel upon which this movie is based, and found the film to be fairly faithful to its source material - it starts off on a clipper at sea with Rafe nursing a dying friend named Charles Rodney  and promising he will look after both the man's ranch and wife. After that Rafe beats the captain and then flees the ship with his two companions - the Irish man Rock Mullaney and young cowboy, J T Langston. They are joined by grizzled old timer Joe Gill. Soon the four men go up against Bruce Barkow played with relish by Mark Harmon who knows there is oil on the Rodney ranch and wants it all for himself. There is also the matter of Rodney's widow who is desired by both Rafe and Barkow.

The movie's full of action and tick all the correct boxes - the final shoot out, maybe ten minutes or so in length, that takes place in the town is excellently done as the four men face off against superior numbers but ultimately triumph, though not without some losses. I very much enjoyed this movie - it's the kind of western that could have been made during the genre's golden age and Selleck clearly has a love for the genre. In fact after watching a couple of his westerns I no longer think of Magnum PI every time his name is mentioned - for me Selleck has become one of the great screen cowboys.

5 comments:

John Sinclair said...

Sounds mighty good. I'll have to ask my Yankee cousins to see if they can rustle me up a copy.
Pity these TNT films aren't generally shown over here.

Tom Selleck is a remarkably versatile actor - check out his nuanced performance as the gay reporter in In and Out for instance.
Forty years ago he would have been a movie star.

Randy Johnson said...

I've always thought Selleck, and Sam Elliot as well, have that look that lets them do cowboy roles and look more "real" than a lot of other actors.

Gary Dobbs/Jack Martin said...

I'm gonna' watch another Selleck western tonight before sleepies - The Shadow Riders, another Lamour story. I'm looking forward to it as both Crossfire Trail and Monte Walsh impressed the hell out of me.

Randy Johnson said...

The Shadow Riders is excellent. With Sam Elliot and veteran Ben Johnson, it's one of my favorites of the Dellck westerns.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've generally liked all of Selleck's turns as a cowboy. I think he has both the look and the acting chops.