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With: Robert Ryan, Burl Ives, Tina Louise, Alan Marshal, Venetia Stevenson, David Nelson, Nehemiah Persoff, Jack Lambert, Frank DeKova, Lance Fuller, Elisha Cook Jr., Dabbs Greer, Betsy Jones-Moreland, Helen Westcott, Donald Elson, Robert Cornthwaite, Michael McGreevey
Written by: Philip Yordan, based on a novel by Lee E. Wells
Directed by: André de Toth
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 92
Date: 07/22/1959

Day of the Outlaw (1959)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Snow Furies

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

André de Toth's black-and-white winter Western Day of the Outlaw is a flat-out masterpiece, filled with nuance and visual splendor.

Robert Ryan plays cattleman Blaise Starrett who has fallen out with the townspeople for sticking to his old-fashioned methods; it's the old Western conflict of the wild and free colliding with progress and control. He comes to town for supplies just before Jack Bruhn (Burl Ives), a former army captain, and his band of outlaws arrive. While Bruhn tries to keep his men from wreaking havoc, he himself is dying from a bullet wound and his control hangs by a thread.

Meanwhile, Blaise is in love with Helen (Tina Louise), who is married to Hal Crane (Alan Marshall), and a younger member of Bruhn's gang, Gene (David Nelson), falls for the pretty blonde Ernine (Venetia Stevenson). Blaise persuades Bruhn that he can lead them to safety on a secret path through the snowy mountains, though, in actuality, it's unlikely that many will survive.

Far from just good guys versus bad guys, Day of the Outlaw gives each character his or her own fascinating shadings. Few Westerns utilized snow as a visual scheme, and de Toth uses it brilliantly, bright and white, out in the open, but also deceptive and deadly. Russell Harlan (Red River, Gun Crazy) provided the great cinematography, and Philip Yordan (Johnny Guitar, The Man from Laramie) wrote the screenplay, based on a novel by Lee E. Wells.

Louise, later known as movie star Ginger on TV's "Gilligan's Island" is shown on some posters (and on Kino Lorber's Blu-ray slip cover) on her knees, holding a gun, and her ample cleavage spilling out of a minuscule top; no such scene appears in the movie. (It's wintertime.) On the great-looking Blu-ray, historian and author Jeremy Arnold provides a commentary track, and there's a batch of trailers.

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