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      The Secret of Convict Lake

      1951 1h 23m Western List
      Reviews 64% Audience Score Fewer than 50 Ratings After a group of convicts escapes from prison, they take refuge in the wilderness. While most of the crew are ruthless sociopaths, Jim Canfield (Glenn Ford) is an innocent man who was jailed under false pretenses. When Canfield and his fellow fugitives reach an isolated farming settlement where the men are all away, it creates tension with the local women. Things get more dire when rumors of hidden money arise, and Canfield discovers that the man who framed him is part of the community. Read More Read Less

      Critics Reviews

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      Bob Thomas Associated Press None of the characters is entirely likable, but the cast, headed by Gene Tierney, Glenn Ford and Ethel Barrymore, makes the tale believable. Aug 5, 2019 Full Review Manny Farber The Nation A grotesquely overcivilized Western larded with small talk about decency and indecency, peace of mind, kindness. Sep 15, 2021 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews The predictable feel-good melodrama is watchable because of Ford and Tierney. Rated: B- Apr 26, 2016 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

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      Steve D Simple but fairly effective. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 04/04/24 Full Review Audience Member Really good one right here. Thank you will enjoy it James Welch, Henderson, Arkansas, April 9, 2023. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 04/10/23 Full Review Audience Member Only one similarity connects the plot of this movie and the historic facts: several of the 29 convicts who escaped from a Carson City, Nevada, prison in September of 1871, did successfully cross the Sierra Nevadas into California, where they camped near Monte Diablo, since renamed Convict Lake thanks to them. The movie starts with a handful of escapees crossing the Sierras. So much for fact. After that, fiction takes over, with more females than males in the cast. But so what? It's still solidly entertaining. Four convicts make it to the little settlement of Convict Lake: two antagonistic alpha males (good Glenn Ford and bad Zachary Scott), a young sociopath (Richard Hylton), and a dangerous goof (Cyrul Cusack, of all people!). They weasel their way into the sympathies of the women and their children, who are rarely seen and never heard; the men are all off on the unspecified work of frontiersmen. But they left plenty of guns behind. The convicts, on the other hand, don't have guns. They have leg irons, one each, left ankle. The heroine (Gene Tierney, wan but beautiful and effective) notices while she's holding a shotgun on them, but the women take pity on the pitiful unchained gang, and give them a cabin and food for the night. That decision is made by the matriarch, the great Ethel Barrymore, bedridden and delivering her signature tough old lady, which is praise, not complaint ("I'm a poor old woman lying in a bed of pain reading my bible, you bloodthirsty weasel") orders the women to gather all the guns and hide them under her mattress. The movie is predictable to anybody familiar with Hollywood westerns, or Hollywood romances, or Hollywood period. But as with any work of art, it's the details that matter. The inclusion of a sociopath adds a crucial bit of frisson. He is played well enough by a pretty-boy actor, Richard Hylton, but it's the crafty dialog that deserves the credit. The fact that this handsome young man is unpredictably homicidal is the only thing that scares the consummately evil Zachary Scott into appeasing rationality. The script (with uncredited contributions from Ben Hecht) is what kept me going. The first time Glenn Ford handles Gene Tierney is aggressive, not romantic, but his reaction to the feel of a woman is, "I wondered if there was enough left in me to care about living." Zachary has contrasting scene with Ann Dvorak (her last film role): "It's been a long time since I've had a woman slap my face," he says, perversely encouraged, before they roll in the hay. Look, it's not a great movie, but it's solidly written and structured, if not conceived. If only for Ford, Tierney, and Barrymore, it's worth your time. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/26/23 Full Review deke p GENE TIERNEY! But google CONVICT LAKE,Calif. I did when traveling by it near the Sierras. Real escaped convicts killed a lawman who happened pon em. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member Decent drama with a western setting. What distinguishes this from the many like it is the cast. Only in studio era Hollywood would a routine western have a cast roll that consisted of Glenn Ford, Gene Tierney, Ethel Barrymore, Zachary Scott, Jeanette Nolan and the great Ann Dvorak, whose final theatrical feature this was. At a brisk 80 minutes this keeps the tension taut throughout. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/27/23 Full Review Read all reviews
      The Secret of Convict Lake

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis After a group of convicts escapes from prison, they take refuge in the wilderness. While most of the crew are ruthless sociopaths, Jim Canfield (Glenn Ford) is an innocent man who was jailed under false pretenses. When Canfield and his fellow fugitives reach an isolated farming settlement where the men are all away, it creates tension with the local women. Things get more dire when rumors of hidden money arise, and Canfield discovers that the man who framed him is part of the community.
      Director
      Michael Gordon
      Producer
      Frank P. Rosenberg
      Screenwriter
      Ben Hecht, Oscar Saul, Victor Trivas
      Production Co
      Twentieth Century Fox
      Genre
      Western
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Jul 24, 2020
      Runtime
      1h 23m