There Was A Crooked Man Movie 1960

Summary: “There Was a Crooked Man” is a 1960 American Western film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. Kirk Douglas plays the protagonist, a charming and crooked outlaw named Paris Pitman Jr., who is sentenced to a harsh prison. The movie features an all-star cast and is known for its dark and satirical take on the Old West.

1. The Cast

The stellar cast of “There Was a Crooked Man” is one of the film’s biggest assets. In addition to Kirk Douglas as Paris Pitman Jr., the movie stars Henry Fonda, Hume Cronyn, Warren Oates, Burgess Meredith, and Lee Grant. Each of these actors brings their unique style and charisma to their roles, creating a memorable ensemble that drives the film’s plot forward.

Fonda is particularly noteworthy as the prison warden who clashes with Pitman Jr., while Cronyn delivers a standout performance as the manipulative prison chaplain. Meredith and Grant also shine in smaller roles, injecting wit and humor into the proceedings.

The chemistry between the actors is palpable, and they embody the film’s tongue-in-cheek tone with gusto. Their performances elevate the material and make “There Was a Crooked Man” a joy to watch.

2. The Setting

<p" There Was a Crooked Man" takes place in the Arizona Territory in the late 19th century. The film presents an unglamorous view of the Old West, portraying it as a harsh and unforgiving place where violence and corruption are the norm. The prison where Pitman Jr. is held is particularly bleak, with its dusty concrete walls and oppressive guards.

The film’s setting contributes to its overall sense of bleakness and cynicism. It is not a romanticized version of the West, but rather a realistic interpretation of a time and place where justice is often elusive, and the strong prey on the weak.

The harshness of the setting also provides a stark contrast to the charm and charisma of Kirk Douglas’s character. Pitman Jr. is a crook and a liar, but he is also undeniably charismatic and funny. His personality clashes with the world around him, making for an interesting dynamic that drives the film’s plot.

3. The Tone

“There Was a Crooked Man” has a dark and satirical tone that sets it apart from other Western films of its era. The film takes a cynical view of the justice system and law enforcement, portraying it as corrupt and cruel. Pitman Jr. is not a sympathetic protagonist, but the film does make a case for why he might be the lesser of two evils in a world full of corruption.

The film grapples with questions of morality and justice in an engaging and thought-provoking way. It is not a simplistic good vs. evil story, but rather a nuanced exploration of the gray areas in between. The tone is pitch-perfect, balancing humor and drama in a way that keeps the viewer hooked until the very end.

The film’s final moments are particularly memorable and pack an emotional punch. While there is humor throughout the movie, the darker elements of the plot are never far from one’s mind, resulting in a powerful and unforgettable viewing experience.

4. The Directing

Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed “There Was a Crooked Man,” and it is clear that he was in complete control of the material. The film has a polished and professional look, with expertly staged scenes and well-choreographed action sequences.

Mankiewicz’s direction also brings out the best in his talented cast. He allows them to play to their strengths, resulting in performances that are both nuanced and engaging. The film benefits greatly from Mankiewicz’s guidance, and it is clear that he had a strong vision for the material.

The film’s pacing is also noteworthy. “There Was a Crooked Man” runs just under two hours, but it never feels slow or dull. The story moves at a brisk pace, with each scene building on the last in a way that keeps the viewer engaged from start to finish.

5. The Music

The musical score for “There Was a Crooked Man” was composed by Charles Strouse, who would later go on to write the music for the Broadway hit “Annie.” The music is an important part of the movie’s overall tone, providing an upbeat and playful counterpoint to the dark and cynical themes of the plot.

The main theme is particularly memorable, featuring a bouncy and infectious melody that perfectly captures the character of Paris Pitman Jr. The music helps to establish the film’s tone and adds to its overall enjoyment.

The movie’s soundtrack also features several catchy songs, performed by the cast members themselves. These songs are a fun addition to the film and help to break up some of the tension in the prison scenes.


“There Was a Crooked Man” is a brilliant and underrated Western that deserves more recognition than it gets. The film’s all-star cast, setting, tone, directing, and music all come together to create a memorable and enjoyable viewing experience.

Kirk Douglas delivers one of his most charming and charismatic performances as the crooked outlaw, while the rest of the cast fills out their roles with style and conviction. Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s direction is top-notch, and Charles Strouse’s musical score adds to the film’s overall enjoyment.

If you’re a fan of Westerns or just looking for an engaging and thought-provoking movie, “There Was a Crooked Man” is definitely worth checking out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *