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The Independent Critic

Robert Ryan, Alan Marshal, Tina Louise, Burl Ives
Andre De Toth
Lee E. Wells (Novel), Philip Yordan (Screenplay)
92 Mins.
Eureka Entertainment (U.K. - Blu-ray)

 "Day of the Outlaw" Gets Eureka's Masters of Cinema Treatment 
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Director Andre de Toth is revered by the likes of Tarantino and Scorsese and Day of the Outlaw is one of his finest films. In the film, Robert Ryan plays Blaise Starrett, a ruthless cattleman who arrives into the small, snowbound town of Bitters to settle a feud with homesteader Hal Crane (Alan Marshal). While Blaise has one eye on resolution of that feud, the other eye is squarely on rekindling an old love affair with Hal's wife, Helen (Tina Louise). However, when a brutal band of outlaws arrives, led by Captain Jack Bruhn (Burl Ives), and takes the town hostage, suddenly what appeared to be moving toward peaceful resolution becomes an explosive powder keg.

Day of the Outlaw is based upon a 1955 novel by Lee E. Wells and even as I was watching it for this review felt like a film that more than a little inspired Tarantino's recent The Hateful Eight. While director Andre de Toth certainly received acclaim for this flm, he is to this day likely best known for having directed the original House of Wax starring Vincent Price, though most of his films were either Westerns or fell within the film noir genre. Day of the Outlaw is also a fine example of a film that capitalized on snowy vistas and winter landscapes, here brought beautifully to life by Russell Harlan's lensing. Harlan, best known for working with Howard Hawks and his work on To Kill a Mockingbird, magnificently captures in the final scene what may very well be one of the best scenes from the 1950s.

Ryan, always an underrated actor, is tremendous here while Burl Ives reminds us that he was a man of many talents as the angry, menacing Captain Jack. Elisha Cook, Jr., a character actor from the period, is perhaps the film's quiet hero portraying a town barber.

Made on a rather slight budget, Day of the Outlaw was initially poorly received but over the years has garnered an almost cult-like following and, as noted, some rather famous supporters who vouch for its quality. An underrated film, Day of the Outlaw is now getting its due notice thanks to Eureka Entertainment's adding it to its Masters of Cinema collection. While the extras here aren't particularly high in quantity, they add a layer of depth to one of Hollywood's underrated 50's gems. The extras include:

  • High-definition 1080p presentation of the film on the Blu-ray
  • Video appreciation by filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Isolated music and effects track
  • Double-sided sleeve featuring alternate artwork
  • 32-PAGE BOOKLET featuring a new essay by critic Glenn Kenny, a1994 interview with De Toth, the films original press book, illustrated with archival imagery

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 

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