One Foot in Hell (1960) Alan Ladd, Don Murray, Dan O'Herlihy, Dolores Michaels, Barry Coe Movie Review

One Foot in Hell (1960)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Alan Ladd in One Foot in Hell (1960)

One Foot in the Grave

When Mitch's (Alan Ladd) pregnant wife becomes ill as they travelled in search of a new start, after their home was burned down by Yankees, he rushes her to the nearest town. But no one seems to care as the hotel manager won't rush himself to give them a room and then when Mitch finally gets the Doc he sends him to get medication but the pharmacist won't hurry either or allow him to offer his mules as payment till he gets his money from the hotel leading to the sheriff intervening and Mitch getting back too late with the medication as his wife dies. With the people in town feeling guilty for their part in the death of his wife they offer him a job as deputy sheriff in the town. But whilst Mitch becomes a popular and respected man in the town he can never forget the part they played in his wife's death and plans to make them all pay one day.

"One Foot in Hell" is an interesting movie but done wrong from start to finish, not so wrong that it is unwatchable but wrong enough that after the movie has finished you start picking holes. The thing is that the storyline itself isn't bad with Mitch being the good guy who finally has enough of being at the wrong end of things and turns bad, planning his revenge on the town and in no hurry to get it. Along the way he quietly recruits a group of bad characters who have unique skills which he will be able to exploit. Exploit being an operative word as whilst he seems congenial Mitch doesn't give a care for anyone and if they die due to his actions it doesn't bother him as he has become that cold.

The trouble is that "One Foot in Hell" doesn't bother establishing characters so we have to take it that Mitch is the nice guy who has had enough and turns bad. There is also an issue with Alan Ladd who was nowhere near the actor he was back at the start of the 50s and despite only being in his 40s looked a good decade older, lacking the sharpness and energy he once had. It causes the movie to drag because Ladd seems to drift through the movie unable to deliver any real character. And sadly I have to go on as whilst "One Foot in Hell" is shot in 2.35 : 1 director James B. Clark fails to take advantage of the screen to not only capture the beauty but also the depth making it a surprisingly flat looking movie.

What this all boils down to is that "One Foot in Hell" is kind of disappointing but only because it ends up such an average movie despite a storyline which has plenty of potential. In truth it is the sort of western, with its revenge storyline as well as a gang and heist aspect which would be perfect for a remake.