I Died a Thousand Times (1955): Stuart Heisler’s Remake of High Sierra, Starring Jack Palance in the Bogart Role

From Our Vaults:

Stuart Heisler directed I Died a Thousand Times, a crime film noir in CinemaScope color, starring Jack Palance as paroled bank robber Roy Earle.

Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

I Died a Thousand Times

Theatrical release poster

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

I Died a Thousand Times is an inferior remake of High Sierra (1941), which was based upon a novel by W.R. Burnett and starred Humphrey Bogart as Earle, a role that had catapulted him to the major league of stars.

The same story had also been made into the 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 plans the robbery of a resort hotel. His partners include the hotheaded Babe (Lee Marvin), easy-going Red (Earl Holliman), and  the hotel “inside man” 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 befriended.

He had promised to use his share of the loot to pay for Velma’s needed operation.  Earle goes through with the robbery, but he’s thwarted by his gang’s ineptitude, the treachery of late Big Mac’s successors, and Velma’s fickleness.

Earle makes a desperate escape into the Sierra Nevada, where a police sniper shoots him down.

The comedy-relief character played by black actor Willie Best in the original film has been replaced by a Mexican stereotype played by Gonzales-Gonzales.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 length career, and Nick Adams makes uncredited appearance as a bellhop.

Jack Palance as Roy Earle aka Roy Collins
Shelley Winters as Marie Garson
Lori Nelson as Velma
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


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

Production and distribution: Warner

Release date: November 9, 1955

Running time: 109 minutes


TCM showed the movie on June 25, 2021.