Ride a Crooked Trail (ViaVision) (1958) (NTSC)

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Released 9-Oct-2019

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Introduction-Ben Mankiewicz Intro (1:25)
More…-TCMdb Article
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1958
Running Time 88:04
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jesse Hibbs

Starring Audie Murphy
Gia Scala
Walter Matthau
Henry Silva
Joanna Moore
Eddie Little
Mary Field
Leo Gordon
Mort Mills
Frank Chase
Bill Walker
Case ?
RPI ? Music Stanley Wilson

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     As Ride a Crooked Trail starts fugitive bank robber Joe Maybe (Audie Murphy) is being chased by US Marshall Jim Noonan. Noonan is killed after accidentally falling over a precipice, so Joe takes his horse and rides into a nearby town where justice is delivered, somewhat precipitously, by Judge Kyle (Walter Matthau) and his shotgun. Kyle mistakes Joe for Marshall Noonan and insists that he stay as town Marshall, even providing Joe with a free house. Joe has his eye on robbing the town bank, so stays. Joe’s true identity is almost revealed when an old flame, Tessa Milotte (Gia Scala), arrives in town but Joe manages to convince Judge Kyle that Tessa is his wife and they set up house together. Tessa has really come to town to case the bank for her new lover, notorious outlaw Sam Teeler (Henry Silva), but is prepared to go along with Joe until Sam arrives. Indeed, their life becomes rather domestic when young Jimmy (Eddie Little), a ward of the court, and a cute dog move in with them. Kyle does have his suspicions about Joe and when Sam and his gang arrive in town Joe has to decide just which side of the law he is on.

     Ride a Crooked Trail was again directed by Jesse Hibbs who had worked with Murphy on Ride Clear of Diablo (1954), To Hell and Back (1955), Walk the Proud Land (1956) and Joe Butterfly (1957) but who soon afterwards became primarily a TV director with episodes of Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Rawhide and especially Perry Mason on his resume. By this time he and Murphy had a good working relationship and Murphy seems fully relaxed in his role. Murphy did not have a great range as an actor because, whether he played an outlaw such as Billy the Kid or a good guy, he always had the wholesome personality of a decent man and Ride a Crooked Trail is no different; one really does not have any doubts about the decision Joe will make at the end.

     It does not hurt that Ride a Crooked Trail is another western written by Borden Chase, writer of Red River (1948), Winchester ‘73 (1950) and Bend of the River (1952) among others. Some of the dialogue and innuendo between Murphy and the beautiful and feisty Gia Scala, who later in her short career appeared in The Guns of Navarone (1961), is delightful. Indeed, the cast of Ride a Crooked Trail is uniformly excellent with a manic Walter Matthau chewing the scenery as he munches on his cigar and the always sinister, yet charismatic Henry Silva, a man who was born to play villains. Also of note in the cast is Joanna Moore, mother of Tatum O’Neal, as a saloon girl.

     Although there are a couple of good action sequences, Ride a Crooked Trail it is not really a full on action western. Ride a Crooked Trail is, however, a fun example of family friendly mid-50’s westerns, a light-hearted, entertaining western with some sly dialogue, a scene chomping Walter Matthau, a feisty leading lady, a good villain, gunplay, Audie Murphy, a young boy and a dog.

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Transfer Quality


     Ride a Crooked Trail is presented in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in NTSC and is16x9 enhanced.

     Other than a few scenes on the open prairie and the chase at the end of the film, Ride a Crooked Trail takes place in a good looking town set complete with a river, a paddlewheel steamer and a steam engine as the rail head arrives in town. Filmed in Cinemascope and Eastman colour, other than a couple of shots of the herd on the plain that look soft the print is strong and firm with beautiful rich colours. Blacks are solid and as the night shooting was day for night shadow detail is firm. There is a little bit of motion blur against railings but I did not see any marks.

     No subtitles are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps.

     Dialogue is clear. The sounds of galloping horses and gunshots had nice depth for a mono audio. There is no credit for the music which is somewhat generic.

     There was no hiss or crackle.

    Lip synchronisation is generally fine except for a few lines by Gia Scala.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Ben Mankiewicz Intro (1:25)

     More an intro to Murphy with a bit on Ride a Crooked Trail.

Stills Gallery

     Divided into five separate sections, the stills advance automatically or by using the remote. Silent. The sections are:

TCMdb Article

     Five silent text screens from the Turner Classic Movies database about Ride a Crooked Trail.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Ride a Crooked Trail has been released in the US as part of an Audie Murphy collection and here in Australia as a standalone DVD that the reviewer on this site noted was in excellent condition and did include the film’s trailer. The film was also part of the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection II, which is part of this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. See the summary section below.


     Ride a Crooked Trail is a light hearted, very entertaining western with a great cast including Murphy, Walter Matthau and henry Silva, a feisty leading lady, a case of mistaken identity, a kid and a bit with a dog. What’s not to like?

     The video is very good for 60 year old film, the audio is the original mono. The extras are minimal, but there are some.

     Ride a Crooked Trail is included in the 14 disc / 14 film set Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. The 14 movies, made by Murphy between 1950 and 1966, are all westerns except for the army comedy Joe Butterfly. The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is made up from the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection and the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection II. Both of these individual Man of the West Collection packs have been released previously. The film also received a decent standalone release in Australia a decade ago. But if you are a fan of westerns or a fan of Audie Murphy and don’t have those two earlier collections, this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is a good buy.

     The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection was supplied for review by Via Vision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, October 26, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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