Pros: Tom Selleck, Scenic beauty,
Cons: Needs a better story and casting
Crossfire Trail (2001)
This is a recent release Warner Bros DVD starring Tom Selleck who has made a name for himself as the best cowboy actor in recent memory, taking up in the grand tradition of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne who rode the trails before him. The story is adapted from the book of the same name by renowned western author Louis L’Amour.
The movie opens with a short scene with Selleck as Rafe Covington tending his sick partner as they ship around the horn to Californy on a merchant ship. Unfortunately the friend ails unto death and Rafe decides to get his money back from the captain who we are told had beaten his friend to the point he was prior to when we joined the story. Rafe promises his friend he will take care of his ranch, some big spread in Wyoming over yonder someplace.
Covington takes what’s owed him from the strong box after beating the captain and takes a lifeboat ashore. He trades for some horses and gear and heads out across country for the ranch picking up a bystander (Wilford Brimley) who wants to tag along. He is soon outside the ranch and learns the mistress, played by Virginia Madsen, is under the protection of the oily local strong man Bruce Barkow (Mark Harmon) who runs the local trading store and runs a gang of various hired guns and general purpose thugs.
It turns out the ranch is large – some 40,000 acres or about the size of an average state and the widow is rich only she doesn’t know it. Bruce Barkow is trying to marry her to get her property which he knows has rich mineral deposits, we hear something about oil that will pave the way for that industrial boom just in the future.
The story has no surprises as it is a traditional western tale and the white hats and black hats are early revealed never to vary from their appointed roles. The acting is adequate with no real outstanding performances. Tom Selleck makes a believable cowboy as he usually does with impressive looks, handlebar mustache, and riding and shooting that rivals that of the heroes of old. The rest of the cast are adequate with no memorable characters but the props and costuming are first rate. The script was where it was lacking and also they could have added a little chemistry among the actors.
There are confrontations and shootouts just like you’d expect and the good guys win in the end just like you knew they would. The best part of the production is the scenic beauty of the wilderness with absolutely gorgeous wide shots of the wide open spaces, mountains, forests, and water.
The Warner Bros DVD is presented in color in 1.85:1 theatrical format with a running time of 95 minutes. There are subtitles and a few text extra features like cast bios if you’re interested.
Crossfire Trail is not going to get on any top ten lists but it is an adequate way to while away about an hour and a half you have to spare.