Movie Review: Along the Great Divide (1951)
“AN ADVENTURE THAT AVALANCHES FROM THE BULLET-PROOF ROOF OF THE ROCKIES TO THE FIERY DESERT FLOOR!”
Along the Great Divide (1951)
Director: Raoul Walsh
Cast: Kirk Douglas, Virginia Mayo, John Agar
Synopsis: A U.S. Marshal and two deputies rescue a cattle rustler from a lynch mob led by a local cattle baron convinced that the rustler also killed his son.
A young Kirk Douglas (Out of the Past, Ace in the Hole) looks a natural in the saddle in Along the Great Divide, his debut western, ably directed by the under-rated Raoul Walsh. He plays a US Marshal who breaks up a lynching party and vows to deliver the near-victim, a cattle rustler (Walter Brennan – To Have and Have Not, My Darling Clementine) suspected of murdering the son of one of the party, to the nearest court – which just happens to be on the other side of a desert. If that wasn’t bad enough, the father of the murdered man promises Douglas he’ll never reach his destination, and the suspect’s daughter (Virginia Mayo – White Heat) also does her best to foil his plans.
Along the Great Divide’s plot is bolstered by a character study which probes the relationship between father and son/daughter. Mayo’s father is a decent man capable of committing petty crime to make ends meet who nevertheless commands his daughter’s unwavering loyalty; the grieving father – a wealthy cattle baron – treats his surviving son like the hired help with predictable results, and Douglas is haunted by the belief that he inadvertently brought about his own father’s death. It’s these dynamics that drive the story, and while the inevitable climax can be guessed a good hour from the end of the film, the journey there is engrossing enough to keep the audience interested.
(Reviewed 9th February 2016)