The Law and Jake Wade
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Robbing banks, holding up stagecoaches: That’s the life Jake Wade tried to leave behind when he put on a badge, found himself a pretty fiancée and set his path on the straight and narrow. But not yet. Wade’s outlaw partner resurfaces to take the lawman and his girl captive, forcing them into a trek to recover the loot Wade buried long ago — and plunging captors and captives into the violent heart of Comanche territory. John Sturges (The Great Escape) directs, continuing his string of rugged, character-driven tales of action. Robert Taylor and Richard Widmark deliver vivid contrasts as the resolute hero and the depraved desperado. And the snowcapped Sierras provide towering backdrops for the mounting clash of wills.
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The scenery is beautiful and appreciated as the dvd is presented in widescreen.
Simple story of revenge with Robert Taylor in great shape; but, Richard Widmark steals the movie. His acting is superb. Solid cast including very good performances by Henry Silva, Robert Middleton and Deforest Kelley.
A good movie, well worth adding to your Western collection.
John Sturges directed "The Law and Jake Wade" with the same skill he brought to other westerns. The story moves quickly and use of California desert and mountain locations is outstanding. Unfortunately, some night scenes were filmed using indoor sets which not only don't look real but have painted scenery not geographically compatible with the actual photography. Having pointed this out, I am willing to make allowances.
Richard Widmark had a unique style of villainy--clever sarcasm, slight hesitations in delivery of his lines, and, yes, we do get to hear him giggle a few times a la Tommy Udo from "Kiss of Death". He was also a master of sudden mood changes, going from pleasant to homicidal in a few seconds, and always believable.
As great as the contributions of the stars and director are, I have to give top credit for the success of "The Law and Jake Wade" to screenwriter William Bowers.
Bowers chose to have Widmark's outlaw be a master of dry wit. Bowers later had James Garner speak in much the same manner, albeit as the hero, in "Support Your Local Sheriff". Some of what Widmark says is borderline anachronistic but that only adds to the interest. Widmark's character is not fun--he's actually quite psychotic--but his way with words is still very clever.
Henry Silva is also in this. Like Widmark, he's supposed to be a really nice guy and family man in real life, but you'd never know it to see his movies.
"The Law and Jake Wade" is not a top western classic but it still ranks quite high. It's worth seeing just to find out why Widmark's character never got to go to the Swiss Alps, and has other content to set it apart from usual Western fare.