I Died a Thousand Times (1955): Sruar Heisler Crime Nir, remake of High Sierra, Starring Jack Palance in the Bogart Role, ad Shelley Winters in the Ida Lupino’s

From the Archives

I Died a Thousand Times is a mediocre remake of High Sierra (1941), which was based upon a novel by W.R. Burnett and starred Humphrey Bogart as Earle.

Died a Thousand Times
Diedaonektimeposter.jpg

Theatrical release poster

In one of his last films, Stuart Heisler directed this anachronistic CinemaScope noir crime film, starring Jack Palance in the Bogart role, as paroled bank robber Roy Earle.

The ensemble includes Shelley Winters, Lee Marvin, Earl Holliman, Perry Lopez, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, and Lon Chaney, Jr.

The same story had also been made into a Western, Colorado Territory (1949), with Joel McCrea.

Roy “Mad Dog” Earle (Jack Palance), an aging bank robber, intends to pull off one last heist before retiring.

Sprung from prison by crime boss, Big Mac (Lon Chaney Jr.), Earle agrees to plan the robbery of a resort hotel. His partners include the hotheaded Babe (Lee Marvin), easy-going Red (Earl Holliman), and an “inside man” at the hotel, Louis Mendoza (Perry Lopez). Along for the ride is Marie (Shelley Winters), a dance-hall girl whom Babe recently met.

Marie falls in love with Earle, but he is more interested in Velma (Lori Nelson), the club-footed daughter of a farmer (Ralph Moody) whom Earle had earlier befriended.

Intending to use his share of the loot to pay for Velma’s needed operation, Earle goes through with the robbery, only to be thwarted by the ineptitude of his gang, the treachery of the late Big Mac’s successors, and the fickle Velma.

In the last scene, with the faithful Marie by his side, Earle makes desperate escape into the Sierra Nevada, where a police sniper shoots him down.

The stereotype comic-relief character played by black actor Willie Best in the original film has been replaced by a Mexican stereotype played by Gonzales-Gonzales.

The film marks the second appearance of Dennis Hopper’s six-decade career, and Nick Adams makes an uncredited appearance as a bellhop.

Bosley Crowther, writing for the NY Times, did not like the remake: “the reason this film is not so touching is because it is antique and absurd—-the kind of glorification of the gunman that was obsolescent when High Sierra was made. It is an insult to social institutions and to public intelligence to pull this old mythological hero out of the archives and set him on a mountain top again. The pretense is so blunt and sentimental that it makes the whole thing a total cliché.

Cast
Jack Palance as Roy Earle aka Roy Collins
Shelley Winters as Marie Garson
Lori Nelson as Velma Goodhue
Lee Marvin as Babe Kossuck
Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez as Chico
Lon Chaney Jr. as Big Mac
Earl Holliman as Red
Perry Lopez as Louis Mendoza
Richard Davalos as Lon Preisser
Howard St. John as Doc Banton
Nick Adams as Bellboy (uncredited)
Dennis Hopper as Joe (uncredited)
Ralph Moody as Pa Goodhue
Olive Carey as Ma Goodhue
Dub Taylor as Ed (uncredited)
Paul Brinegar as Bus Driver (uncredited)
James Millican as Jack Kranmer

Credits

Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by W.R. Burnett
Produced by Willis Goldbeck
Cinematography Ted D. McCord
Edited by Clarence Kolster
Music by David Buttolph

Production and distribution company: Warner

Release date: November 9, 1955 (US)

Running time: 109 minutes