These Thousand Hills (1959)

Genres - Action, Drama, Western  |   Sub-Genres - Modern Western  |   Release Date - May 8, 1959 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

A good and somewhat unusual Western that at times seems to be channeling the spirit of film noir, These Thousand Hills nevertheless falls short of being the great film it wants to be. Again, Hills is a good film, definitely worth watching -- but just as definitely not a great film. Part of the problem is that Hills seems to want to be a frontier epic, but it simply lacks the size and the grandeur that is required. Sure, there are wide open spaces and some panoramic vistas, but they feel like "extras" rather than an integral, necessary component of Hills. The story keeps trying to be bigger and grander, but at heart it's small -- a story about the soul of a man, rather than the soul of the country. As that man, Don Murray is part of the problem. His performance is fine, more than perfectly acceptable and effective -- but at the same time, less than soul-searching. The actor is playing a role rather than being the character, and that discrepancy is noticeable. As his real love, Lee Remick is exceptional, a performance that is quietly luminous. Stuart Whitman is very good as Murray's buddy and Richard Egan does well with the rather-on-enote role of the heavy. Richard Fleischer's direction is professional and at times imaginative; if he lacks the vision to make Hills the bigger picture it wants to be, he stills turns out an engaging and at times intriguing character study.