Badlanders The (1958)
Though ostensibly a version of The Asphalt Jungle (1950) I didn’t see it nor is it even half as captivating. It stars Alan Ladd late in his career and looking it and Ernest Borgnine as ex-convicts who at least initially don’t want anything to do with one another but end up working together.
The film opens in a Yuma prison camp where Ladd has 10 months left on his sentence but Borgnine has only one more day to serve. Borgnine has just gotten out of solitary confinement where he has served 4 of his 10 years so he’s a little grouchy. In fact he is about to strike a guard for beating another member of his chain gang when Ladd wrestles him to the ground and stops him. Ladd who has been a model prisoner is then released later that same day his sentence commuted for saving the guard. Incredibly Borgnine is also released suffering no penalty for almost striking the guard. Though Ladd offers a “job” to Borgnine he had been burned before and is uninterested. After Borgnine leaves the warden asks Ladd why he never acted like a prisoner when he was inside. He responds that he was innocent and that he’d been framed.
Ladd takes the stagecoach to Prescott pointing out the Lisbon mine to a couple of women passengers as they ride into town. It is clear he has some history in this town and had a dispute with the mine’s owner which led to his arrest. While trying to check into the hotel he is told by the Marshall who had sent him to Yuma those years ago that he’s not welcome. After promising him that he’ll leave on the next stagecoach at 6 PM the next day he is allowed to stay. However his normal suite in the Bascom hotel is not available so he is given a room across the hall. He meets a woman who is staying in the suite Ada Winton (Claire Kelly) after helping her. She is a kept woman who’d been locked in by Cyril Lounsberry (Kent Smith) who’s wife owns the Lisbon mine. An arrangement she tolerates because he has money.
Later he rides his (?) horse to the closed south entrance of the mine. He enters the mine and after moving some boards goes straight to a rich gold vein taking a sample. He then goes back into to town to see Sample (Robert Emhardt a “fat” character actor most moviegoers would recognize). Leaving Sample’s office is Comanche (Anthony Caruso). Both of these men work for Lounsberry and Ladd wants Sample to arrange a meeting for him with the big man. While Ladd is meeting with Sample Borgnine comes in. Apparently he knows Sample too and asks him for a job because he eventually wants to become a rancher again. When Sample now with the upper hand prods him he gets angry and leaves.
Later outside Borgnine witnesses Comanche and some other roughnecks treating a Mexican woman Anita (Katy Jurado) badly and interrupts their fun. When one of them is about to shoot Borgnine a deputy (Adam Williams) fires his gun to break it up. Borgnine and Anita then begin a relationship. Meanwhile Ladd gets his meeting with Lounsberry and shows him the gold ore sample. Ladd says he needs cash and since he doesn’t have time to work the mine himself (given the Marshall’s deadline) will bring $100000 worth to Lounsberry the next afternoon if he’ll give him the money. After Lounsberry questions him as to whether the mine in question is his wife’s Ladd lies telling him it’s not. So the deal is made with Lounsberry spotting Ladd $10000 for supplies et al.
Ladd goes to Anita’s to find Borgnine and offers for $1000 now & $9000 later if he’ll help him get the ore out of the mine. Given that the amount would help him finance his cattle ranch he agrees. They then go to see Vincente (the recognizable Nehemiah Pershoff) a Mexican and former acquaintance of Ladd’s. He is a “power monkey” someone who knows how to work with explosives who knows the mine and agrees to join them for $500. The plan is to set their explosives to blow at the same time of day (4 PM) that the regular mine workers explode their tunnel. While Borgnine returns to Anita and Ladd dallies a bit with Ada Vincente has to get all the supplies and meet them at the designated time. On the way to the mine they are seen by the deputy.
There’s not a lot of drama left in this film at this point though there is a double cross (isn’t there always?). Thought the film is rather short under 90 minutes it barely holds one’s interest.