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Storm Fear

Posted by martinteller on November 12, 2011

A struggling writer and his family are visited at their remote mountain farm by his brother — a wounded bank robber on the lam.  Cornel Wilde directed eight films in his lifetime (seven of them, like this one, starring himself) and this was his first.  And a superior first film it is, one I liked much more than Naked Prey.  Elevated far above the usual hostage drama by the strained familial relations and internal strife within each group.  The interactions between the players are laden with sorrow, failure and the ghosts of past regrets.  Every character occupies a gray area, conflicted and/or damaged.  Even the young boy plays a crucial role beyond being just an adorable moppet in jeopardy.  The exception is the sidekick character who is pretty much your standard bad guy, but even he is given life with an engaging performance by Steven Hill.  The whole cast is great: Lee Grant as the shabby dame, Jean Wallace as the wife with some secrets of her own, Dan Duryea again impressing me with a role outside his usual mold, Dennis Weaver as the hired hand, and of course Wilde.  He makes an interesting choice to play the character with a slight stammer, hinting at the doubts that gnaw at him.  The script is thoughtful and gripping, with a few great hard-boiled zingers for Grant and Hill.  I also have to mention the music, yet another sublime score by Elmer Bernstein.  This is an outstanding picture that takes unexpected turns and is heavy with melancholy and desperation.  It needs a restoration and DVD release immediately.  Rating: Great

IMDb
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