Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Badlanders


What a dumb idea. Let’s take the novel that was made into a masterpiece by John Huston in 1950, The Asphalt Jungle, and downdate it (the opposite of updating) to the Old West. Instead of a big jewel heist, let’s make it a vein of gold ore. Instead of Sam Jaffe let’s cast Alan Ladd. Instead of Sterling Hayden, Ernest Borgnine. Sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Actually, it’s not. Just because it can’t aspire to the genius of Huston and Sterling, doesn’t make it a bad picture. In fact, if I hadn’t read that it was the same story I don’t think I’d ever have known it, so why compare the two? This is a reasonably good caper flick, shot mostly in Old Tucson. There are the usual western cliches, but some unusual stuff makes it watchable. The sequences in the old mine shaft where they are setting off explosives are tense and well-done. Ladd and Borgnine are both good, within the limits of their character types. I also enjoyed Katy Jurado, playing the proud, fiery Mexican beauty for the thousandth time.