These Thousand Hills (1959): Fleischer’s Western, Starring Don Murray, Richard Egan, Lee Remick

Richard Fleischer directed These Thousand Hills, a lavishly produced Western, starring Don Murray, Richard Egan, Lee Remick, Stuart Whitman and Patricia Owens.

These Thousand Hills

The screenplay by Alfred Hayes, based on the novel of the same name by A. B. Guthrie Jr., involves a sheltered rancher brought up under the gaze of his Bible-thumping father.

Don Murray plays Albert Gallatin “Lat” Evans, an earnest young cowboy determined to better his situation. who wins a job with a cattle drive by busting a wild horse.

Befriended by cowhand Tom Ping (Stuart Whitman}, Lat dreams about owning his own ranch and being rich one day, unlike his father, who died “broke” and was a “failure.”

When the drive reaches a Wyoming town, the cowboys congregate at the saloon, where Jehu (Richard Egan), an unscrupulous rancher, proposes racing one of their horses against his swift steed. Lat accepts the challenge, and is leading when his opponent throws a blanket, causing Lat to lose his balance and fall from his horse. Marshal Conrad (Albert Dekker), the town’s upstanding banker, intervenes, however, and declares Lat the winner.

Complications arise when Lat first falls for the good-hearted saloon girl Callie (Lee Remick), and then also courts Conrad’s niece Joyce (Patricia Owens). Things turn worse when Callie is savagely beaten by Jehu. When the two men fight, it’s Callie who saves Lat by shooting Jehu.

In the happy (not entirely convincing) ending, Joyce forgives Lat, and gives him her consent for testifying at Callie’s trial.

In the same year, Fleischer also made one of his best films, Compulsion (see our review).


Directed by Richard Fleischer
Produced by David Weisbart
Screenplay by Alfred Hayes, based on These Thousand Hills 1956 novel by A.B. Guthrie Jr.
Music by Leigh Harline
Cinematography Charles G. Clarke
Edited by Hugh S. Fowler
Distributed by Twentieth Century-Fox

Release date: May 8, 1959

Running time: 96 minutes