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There Was a Crooked Man...


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Editorial Reviews

Arizona Territorial Prison inmate Paris Pittman is a schemer, a charmer and quite popular among his fellow convicts - especially with $500,000 in stolen loot hidden away and a plan to escape and recover it. New Warden Woodward Lopeman has other ideas about Pittman. Each man will have the tables turned on him. Academy Award? winner* Joseph L. Mankiewicz cleverly lassoes a twisting, turning Wild West tale of brawls, chases, shootouts and wry wit, courtesy of a script by David Newman and Robert Benton (Bonnie and Clyde). Kirk Douglas as Pittman and Henry Fonda as Lopeman headline a sterling cast, with Hume Cronyn, Burgess Meredith, Warren Oates and Lee Grant among the solid support. Boisterous yet blistering, lighthearted yet lacerating, There Was a Crooked Man is, throughout all its moods, delivishly entertaining.

DVD Features:
Featurette
Theatrical Trailer


Special Features

  • Vintage featurette "On Location with There Was a Crooked Man…"
  • Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Henry Fonda, Hume Cronyn, Warren Oates, Burgess Meredith
  • Directors: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Writers: David Newman, Robert Benton
  • Producers: Joseph L. Mankiewicz, C.O. Erickson
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: December 19, 2006
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000HRLWWQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,000 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "There Was a Crooked Man..." on IMDb

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By g. edward weitl on October 21, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
Look, if you're looking for a film that'll move mountains, forget it. You cannot take There Was a Crooked Man seriously. That said, if you're looking for a fun film, with a screenplay that departs just enough from the standard conventions of the Western genre to be interesting, then check this out. Think meatloaf and crinkle fries as opposed to steak and taters. The storyline is imaginative, the central characters are likeable, albeit mostly irredeemable, and the dialogue is genuinely humorous...even the awkward and slightly bad late sixties baroque pop score somehow works, (even though you might cringe the first time you hear it open the film). There is enough entertainment value here to merit a DVD release. Take it easy...don't be a snob...you'll have fun with it if you allow yourself.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rob on September 22, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I first saw this movie on an Amtrak train. Although I was only 7 at the time it made a lasting impression on me. I couldn't remember the name of this movie or the stars, just the story line.
I finally caught this movie on the Western channel and it is just as good as I remembered it. Not your typical Western, it's a comedy with a lot of star power behind it and just enough twists to keep it fresh.
Chances are you have seen this film before if you are looking this far since this film never received the notoriety that it deserves. If by chance, you have stumbled upon this title, check it out you'll be pleasantly surprised.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 3, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
How could someone not like a western full of genial and persuasive cynicism, full of improbable piety and stuffed with vivid characters, from the two leads, Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda, down to just about everyone else. And look at the pedigree: Directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, who gave us All About Eve, Letter to Three Wives and that most elegant of cynical films, Five Fingers, and with a screenplay by David Newman and Robert Benton, just after their first effort, Bonnie and Clyde, made their bones for them in Hollywood. Well, the answer is, an awful lot of people didn't like it and even more ignored it...including the studio executives. There Was a Crooked Man was buried after it finally was released, with almost no marketing dollars devoted to it.

I think the studio had no idea what to do with the film. Not only is it a witty and cynical western, it has a climax which is mordantly violent and unexpectedly ruthless (especially if you weren't paying attention to a brief scene at the start of the film). Not just that, we wind up with one of the leads dead (snake bite to the throat, guaranteed to make you flinch) and the other...well, you may find yourself pondering just who is the crooked man all the fuss was about.

Me, I like the movie a lot. It's not perfect; it's too long; there are a couple of sub-themes that could have been established faster. Still, for an amusing, sardonic look at human nature, There Was a Crooked Man is hard to beat.

Paris Pitman, and don't forget the Jr., please (Kirk Douglas), is a charming, eye-glass wearing rogue. He could talk a coyote out of a chicken, one character says. He's a natural leader, smart and calculating. He's also a robber and a killer.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By jfay3@acad.stedwards.edu on February 5, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
When I sat down to watch this movie, I expected to see a movie much in the tradition of, say, The Wild Bunch or The Searchers. You know, tough guys on horses being tough. What I ended up watching was a western-comedy that I honestly saw as the grandfather of Blazing Saddles. Honestly, to me, this movie is that funny. Douglas, Fonda, Burgess Meredith, and the always awesome Warren Oates all give performances worthy of all the praise you can give them. Prison movie? It just happens to be set there, and serves as the backdrop for the hilarious posturing going on between Douglas and Fonda. Right from the start, you'll be hooked.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By T O'Brien on December 27, 2006
Format: DVD
The recently released DVD of There Was a Crooked Man should be a must-have for fans of its stars Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda. Not many movie fans know about this movie, but hopefully this DVD release will spark some conversation. Paris Pitman Jr is a likable outlaw who robs $500,000 from a rich businessman, but unfortunately is later caught at the local brothel by the same man after he has already hidden the loot. Pitman is sent to the territorial prison where he recruits his fellow inmates to help him escape for a share of the money. But during his stay, a new warden, Woodrow Lopeman, comes along who wants to rehabilitate and reform these prisoners, using Pitman as his prime example. This western has just the right blend of humor and action. Much of the humor is pretty low-brow, but still funny, and the action is saved for the last half hour. With a quirky musical score, including the theme sung by Trini Lopez, and a great cast, don't let this little known western pass you by.

As affable outlaw Paris Pitman JR, star Kirk Douglas gives one of his finest comedic roles from his career. Pitman can talk his way out of any situation, and Douglas pulls off the part perfectly. It's not until the last 20 minutes though that you realize how ruthless he can be in pursuit of his money. Henry Fonda is also very good as Woodrow Lopeman, the warden with a limp who tries to reform the prisoners. Fonda is underused so you don't know much about his background, but what's there is good.
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