An off-the-beaten track revenge Western, The Secret of Convict Lake sounds like it should be a noir-ish mystery, but it's neither as mysterious nor as noir-filled as one might think. What it is, however, is a very solid and engaging tale which deals with honor and dishonor, and which raises questions about innocence and truth. If that makes Convict sound like a "big question" film, filled with pretentious mulling over the mysteries of the universe, rest assured that it's not; the questions simply give it an extra layer, without bogging the film down. The screenplay is general quite good; if it sets up its tale a little too neatly, it does offer some surprising detours, one of which -- the pitch fork sequence -- is really quite harrowing. Director Michael Gordon takes his time with the first half of the film, which some viewers may find a bit too leisurely. However, this is necessary in order for him to really turn up the juice in the latter half, which he does to especially good effect. Glenn Ford is aces in a typical Glenn Ford role, a basically good man out for revenge on the man who framed him. Zachary Scott an dJack Lambert are expertly villainous, and Ethel Barrymore is dependably sagacious as the leader of the women. Gene Tierney looks lovely and works well with Ford.
by Craig Butler review