Along The Great Divide New Federal marshal Len Merrick saves Tim Keith from lynching at the hands of the Roden clan, and hopes to get him to Santa Loma for trial. Vindictive Ned Roden, whose son Ed was killed, still wants personal revenge, and Tim would like to escape before Ned catches up with him again. Can the marshal make it across the desert with Tim and his daughter? Even if he makes it, will justice be served?
Douglas’ first western and Mayo acts great and looks great.
Along The Great Divide This is the western Walsh made after “Colorado territory”(“White heat” which is “Colorado'”s follow up is a masterpiece but not a western- and it nearly matches its brilliance.A rather short movie,it’s an action-packed story which never loses momentum.Beginning with a very tense situation (a lynching) it remains suspenseful and absorbing all along the great divide.The characters are wonderfully depicted and any of them could be the subject of a movie.This is like” Colorado ‘s territory” or “pursued” ,an intellectual western.The hero,Merrick ,carries the weight of his father’s death.Kirk Douglas gives a fine performance ,being in turn nice or unpleasant.What’s really fascinating is that his tragedy is about to happen again:his prisoner may be innocent and he will have another fault on his conscience.Pop Keith (Walter Brennan) and his daughter Ann (Virginia Mayo who was at the time Walsh’s favorite actress:she’s in the two movies I mention above as well) are an endearing couple:the girl is a strong personality -the part was tailor-made for Mayo-while his papa is a resigned old man,whose favorite weapon is nothing but a ditty which he knows reminds Merrick of his past he cannot forget.One can go as far as saying that Merrick sees Keith as a father who returned from the grave.Another relationship father/son is also featured: Roden who demands Keith’s head because he thinks that he killed his son Ed-“I buried my heart in the grave” he says- and his second son ,the ugly duckling.Roden speaks of his late offspring as a perfect boy .
Walsh’s movie raises many questions .Sometimes we wonder where justice really is and who is on the right side of the law.This exciting western deserves to be upgraded