Synopsis by Michael Betzold
An offbeat 1970s black-comic Western with an all-star cast, this Joseph L. Mankiewicz film is set in 1883 in Arizona. Paris Pitman, Jr. (Kirk Douglas) is the leader of a band of outlaws that steals $500,000 from a wealthy businessman named Lomax (Arthur O'Connell). The other gang members die in a shootout, but Pitman escapes and hides the loot in women's underwear and drops it into a snake pit. After Lomax recognizes Pitman in a brothel, he is arrested by Sheriff Woodward Lopeman (Henry Fonda). At the territorial prison, Pitman bribes Warden Le Goff (Martin Gabel), offering him a share of the hidden money if he lets him escape. But before the scheme is carried through, the warden is killed by a prisoner. Lopeman becomes the new warden, and he is bent on ridding the prison of corruption. Pitman convinces Lopeman that he will cooperate with the reforms, then he uses the new freedoms given to him to plan an elaborate escape with several other men. The escape is to take place during an inspection by the governor. The screenwriting team for this film was Robert Benton and David Newman, who had penned the brilliant Bonnie and Clyde.
bad-guy, captive, captor, entertainer, escape, human-rights, killing, loot, prison, rattlesnake, reform [improve], scheme, sheriff, show