GenreAction, Comedy, Drama Music directorCharles Strouse LanguageEnglish
WriterDavid Newman, Robert Benton Release date1970 (1970) CastKirk Douglas (Paris Pitman, Jr.), Henry Fonda (Woodward W. Lopeman), Hume Cronyn (Dudley Whinner), Warren Oates (Floyd Moon), Burgess Meredith (The Missouri Kid), John Randolph (Cyrus McNutt) Similar moviesRelated Joseph L Mankiewicz movies
There was a crooked man original theatrical trailer
There Was a Crooked Man... is a 1970 western starring Kirk Douglas and Henry Fonda and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. This was the only western made by Mankiewicz, director of such notable films as All About Eve, Guys and Dolls and Cleopatra. It was written by David Newman and Robert Benton, their first script after Bonnie and Clyde.
Paris Pitman, Jr. has pulled off a $500,000 robbery and is the only one who knows where the money is hidden. He is seen in a bordello and is captured, tried, convicted and sentenced to an Arizona penitentiary.
A corrupt warden, LeGoff, is willing to cut the prisoner a deal. He will let Pitman break out of jail for an even split of the half-million dollars. Pitman agrees, but the plan goes awry when LeGoff is murdered by a Chinese convict, Ah-Ping, during an inmate uprising.
Former sheriff Woodward Lopeman becomes the new warden. Although they are enemies, he and Pitman work together to improve conditions at the prison. On a day the lieutenant governor visits, Pitman makes his move. He sparks a riot and manages to escape, but not before three inmates are killed, whereupon Pitman himself does away with two more, Ah-Ping being one of them. The other is Floyd Moon whom he shoots just as it appears the two have gained their freedom.
The money has been buried near a nest of rattlesnakes. Pitman heads for it, with Lopeman in hot pursuit. The money is his again when Pitman is suddenly bitten by a rattlesnake. By the time Lopeman comes across him, Pitman is already dead. Lopeman collects the money, as well as Pitman's body, and rides back to the prison. However, upon his arrival, he abruptly decides to leave the body and gallop off, absconding to Mexico with the money.
Kirk Douglas as Paris Pitman Jr.
Henry Fonda as Sheriff Woodward W. Lopeman
Hume Cronyn as Dudley Whinner
Warren Oates as Floyd Moon
Burgess Meredith as The Missouri Kid
John Randolph as Cyrus McNutt
Lee Grant as Mrs. Bullard
Arthur O'Connell as Mr. Lomax
Martin Gabel as Warden Francis E. LeGoff
Michael Blodgett as Coy Cavendish
C.K. Yang as Ah-Ping
Alan Hale Jr. as Tobaccy
Victor French as Whiskey
Claudia McNeil as Madam
Bert Freed as Skinner
Jeanne Cooper as Prostitute
Barbara Rhoades as Miss Jessie Brundidge, the Schoolteacher
Gene Evans as Colonel Wolff
Pamela Hensley as Edwina
J. Edward McKinley as The Governor
Ann Doran as Mrs. Lomax
Vincent Canby of The New York Times was generally positive: "Although There Was A Crooked Man... is rather low-keyed and takes its own sweet time to reveal itself, it is a movie of the sort of taste, intelligence and somewhat bitter humor I associate with Mr. Mankiewicz who, in real life, is one of America's most sophisticated, least folksy raconteurs, especially of stories about the old Hollywood."