Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Edge of Eternity (1959)

EDGE OF ETERNITY (1959) is a solid action thriller, attractively filmed, per the opening credits, "at one of the Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon."

Cornel Wilde stars as Deputy Sheriff Les Martin, who works in a rural mining area near the Grand Canyon. As we will later learn, he's a former attorney struggling to get over the death of his wife and subsequent career difficulties.

Martin's flirtatious relationship with feisty mining heiress Janice Kendon (Victoria Shaw, THE CRIMSON KIMONO) is continually thrown off track due to a strange series of murders in the area. The killings were all committed in very different ways, but the timing of the deaths coming in rapid succession alarms local community leaders; Martin and his boss, Sheriff Edwards (Edgar Buchanan), are under increasing pressure to solve the crimes.

Les begins to make some headway, but the evidence leads him to the Kendon home to pose some uncomfortable questions to Janice's father (Alexander Lockwood). She's also got a brother (Rian Garrick) who's been drinking way too much lately...

This was a good, well-paced film directed by Don Siegel. I've been enjoying catching up with Siegel's work over the last couple of years, most recently THE GUN RUNNERS (1958) and MADIGAN (1968).

Siegel turns out a colorful, fast-paced film which is a visual feast for the eyes, filmed by Burnett Guffey. He makes great use of the Grand Canyon and the aerial tramway to the Bat Cave Mine.

There are also some wonderful "Southwest Americana" shots of places like a gas station and the Mohave County Courthouse in Kingman. I also loved the way Janice's colorful wardrobe vividly contrasts with the desert exteriors. The movie's look is really top-notch.

The Kendons live fairly modestly in a small brick home, but it's got an attractive pool and barbecue. The wealthy family and the desert mining exteriors combined to make me think a bit of the second half of A KISS BEFORE DYING (1956), filmed in different areas of Arizona a few years previously.

The climactic fight sequence on an aerial cable car called to mind the Robert Mitchum film SECOND CHANCE (1953), which was shot in Mexico. The aerial scene is pretty well done, mixing long shots of the cable car with process shots; it's convincing enough that I gasped at one point!

Dabbs Greer turns up as a gas station attendant in a beautifully filmed dawn sequence, and Jack Elam has several scenes as a mining employee.

The screenplay was by Richard Collins and Marion Hargrove (under the pseudonym Knut Swenson), from a story by Hargrove and Ben Markson. The 80-minute film actually could have stood to be a few minutes longer in order to flesh out Martin's past and his relationship with Janice more fully, but it's first and foremost a mystery-action film and what made it onto the screen is quite enjoyable.

I watched this film on a good-looking DVD from Sony Choice.

EDGE OF ETERNITY also had a limited edition Blu-ray release from Twilight Time. The Blu-ray includes a commentary track by C. Courtney Joyner and the late Nick Redman.


Blogger john k said...

Hi Laura,
I actually up graded my Sony MOD disc (which was fine I might add) to the Twilight Time Blu Ray,then being unlike now when the £ was really strong. EDGE OF ETERNITY is one of my favorite Don Siegel films overlooked at the time but it's reputation has been growing. So glad that you give a mention to Burnett Guffey who's lovely CinemaScope photography adds so much to this film. Oddly enough I watched another Guffey lensed film only last night. Finally,after all these years I caught up with THEY CAME TO CORDURA and must admit Guffey's cinematography is the only thing the film has going for it. THEY CAME TO CORDURA has just been released by Mill Creek on a Blu Ray double bill with Boetticher's MAN FROM THE ALAMO. As always with Mill Creek the Blu Ray set is very pocket friendly. For me THEY CAME FROM CORDURA is another of Gary Cooper's late career mis-fires my dislike for MAN OF THE WEST has generated lots of flak on line but I stand by my comments. I do however admire THE HANGING TREE another film that divides opinion. THEY CAME FROM CORDURA is the least of all three the first half of the film is pretty good but things crawl to a virtual halt along the very long and weary trail.The film wastes good actors like Van Heflin and Richard Conte who for me have nothing roles with Heflin,in particular never more unattractive (in both senses of the word) on screen.Guffey's photography,for me is the films only saving grace-it's not a movie I will return to in a hurry. The transfer from Mill Creek is decent enough although the image seems to fade considerably towards the end of the picture-I'll be very interested to see what Gary of DVD Beaver makes of it-furthermore the constant use of day for night throughout the film is jarring,for me at least,all in all worth a look for Guffey's input alone. As far as Columbia CinemaScope Westerns the finest Blu Ray transfers I have seen so far are THE MAN FROM LARAMIE,GUNMAN'S WALK and COMANCHE STATION all three well worth the high def upgrade. In closing I would be hard pressed to really call THEY CAME FROM CORDURA a Western more of a "Guys on a mission" type movie.

8:41 AM  
Blogger john k said...

Just an add on to my above comments but I guess I'm not the biggest Gary Cooper fan as far as Westerns go which is heresy as far as on line comments go. I'd rather Gregory Peck had taken the lead in HIGH NOON merely for the fact that the 30 year age difference between Coop and Kelly would not have been so obvious. Furthermore (more Heresy) I feel THE GUNFIGHTER is a far far superior film to HIGH NOON in fact I even prefer SILVER LODE (similar elements) and when is that film going to get the restoration it so richly deserves. I enjoy the craft of MAN OF THE WEST but cannot help thinking how wonderful Robert Taylor and Burl Ives would have been in Coop's and Lee J Cobb's roles with Cobb ridiculous in my opinion. The less said about Coop's 3 De Mille Westerns the better as far as I'm concerned. As for the rest I do like SPRINGFIELD RIFLE and would love that one on Blu Ray. My favorite of all the Coop's is GARDEN OF EVIL I really wish that he had done more of those type of roles/characters.Sorry to veer off topic it's just so odd that I watched THEY CAME TO CORDURA for the first time last night which got me considering Coop's Westerns overall.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi John!

Great to hear from you on this movie. So glad to know you liked this one too.

I agree, the Sony MOD disc looked great -- but I confess that after a couple days' deliberation I, like you, decided to upgrade to Twilight Time. I'd like to hear the commentary track which I've heard is very good, as the locations and so on were so interesting, and I'd like to read Julie Kirgo's notes. With Twilight Time now out of business and the Blu-rays being limited edition I decided to snag one while I could since it was on sale.

THEY CAME TO CORDURA is one I haven't seen yet, I love Rita so I'll be catching up with it at some point. Be interesting to see where I come down given how disappointing you found it, that's too bad. I haven't seen MAN OF THE WEST yet but I do part ways with you on THE HANGING TREE. It's one of the films I least enjoyed in 2018. I thought at the time I was in the minority but have since run into a couple other people who responded similarly. Oh, well, can't win 'em all. :)

Interesting thoughts on HIGH NOON. It's never been a favorite of mine, though I don't dislike it either...it just doesn't spark that wonderful feeling I usually have when I sit down to watch a favorite Western. I need to see SPRINGFIELD RIFLE and GARDEN OF EVIL! I'm obviously behind on my Cooper viewing LOL. Fortunately though I'll be reviewing one of his early films I've never seen soon, LIVES OF A BENGAL LANCER.

Thanks much for all your thoughts, it's always great to "talk movies"!

Best wishes,

9:35 PM  
Blogger john k said...

Thanks so much for your lengthy reply Laura.
I was not expecting too much from THEY CAME TO CORDURA because it's not that highly regarded anyway. Not an ideal role for Rita,I thought unlike another big CinemaScope Columbia picture FIRE DOWN BELOW where Rita is ideally cast. The Warner Archive Blu Ray of THE HANGING TREE is a thing of beauty and a good way to see the film-I totally understand that it's certainly not for all tastes. I am more than intrigued to know what you think of MAN OF THE WEST,I might be wrong but I don't think the film would have much appeal to you-personally I love the craft of the film but have issues with the casting-there again I cannot possibly dislike a film that includes John Dehner,Robert Wilke and Royal Dano.
The Twilight Time Blu Ray of GARDEN OF EVIL is quiet an advance over the Fox DVD and well worth snapping up.

7:33 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi again, John!

FIRE DOWN BELOW is in my collection, sounds like maybe I should place that one ahead of THEY CAME TO CORDURA.

I do agree that the Warner Archive HANGING TREE Blu-ray looked great. The print quality is the only thing I remember positively about the film LOL. It's funny because, as you know, I'm a "glass is half full" viewer who usually finds at least some things in a movie to appreciate. That one really didn't work for me.

Love the cast you describe for MAN OF THE WEST!

I've ordered a whole bunch of Twilight Time Blu-rays since they announced they were going out of business...now you've got me wondering if I should upgrade GARDEN OF EVIL LOLLLL. But maybe I should check out my DVD first to see how much I like it... Can't beat the cast!

Thanks, as always, for all your thoughts!!

Best wishes,

10:58 AM  

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