Friday, October 19, 2012

Against a Crooked Sky (1975)

So innocuous it’s completely forgettable, this family-friendly Western borrows a plot contrivance from the John Ford classic The Searchers (1956), but instead of the moral complexity found in the earlier film, Against a Crooked Sky is filled with clichés and hokum. When the movie begins, spunky young man Sam Sutter (Stewart Petersen) spends a playful afternoon taunting his pretty sister, Charlotte (Jewel Blanch), while she bathes in a pond on the family’s remote homestead. (Yes, this G-rated flick begins with peekaboo shots of an attractive starlet—go figure.) Soon afterward, the Sutter parents leave the kids alone one day, and a gang of Indians invades, knocking Sam unconscious and abducting Charlotte. Guilt-ridden over his failure to protect his sister, Sam ventures into the wilderness on a rescue mission, eventually stumbling across a crusty prospector named Russian (Richard Boone). Soon, these unlikely allies join forces to search for Charlotte, because Russian believes the Indians who took Sam’s sister know the whereabouts of underground gold. Directed with pedestrian competence by TV hack Earl Bellamy, Against a Crooked Sky feels like it’s cobbled together from bits of other movies, right down to the characterization of Russian as an ornery drunk with a soft side—Boone, generally quite entertaining, does his best with the lackluster material, but he’s following in tracks left by Lee Marvin, John Wayne, and myriad others. Worse, his fellow actors in Against a Crooked Sky are generic C-listers of dubious competence. The only other noteworthy figure in the movie is Brenda Venus, a dancer best known for dating writer Henry Miller toward the end of his life and for, well, her noteworthy figure. Plus, even though Against a Crooked Sky runs a brief 89 minutes, it’s a long slog because nothing unique happens.

Against a Crooked Sky: LAME

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