Cast & Crew
Former Confederate soldier and highwayman-turned-marshal Jake Wade breaks his former partner, Clint Hollister, out of jail in the small western town of Morganville. The men have not seen each other for a year, since the bank robbery and murder that resulted in Jake's arrest. At that time, Clint rescued Jake and the men separated with an agreement to reunite later. Instead, Jake buried the $20,000 from the robbery in the desert and decided to go straight. Believing that he has now repaid Clint by freeing him from jail, Jake refuses to tell Clint where the money is buried and advises him to leave the territory. Disgruntled and disturbed by what he considers Jake's betrayal, Clint vows vengeance. Carefully covering his trail, Jake returns to Cold Stream, where he serves as marshal. That evening, Jake dines at the home of his fiancée Peggy, and asks if she would consider relocating after their upcoming marriage. Startled, Peggy asks for an explanation, but when Jake hesitates, then flatly refuses to explain, Peggy angrily sends him home. Returning to his office, Jake is confronted and knocked out by a stranger, Rennie. Upon reviving, Jake discovers Clint and the rest of his old gang and army comrades, Ortero, Wexler, Burke and newcomer, the hot-headed Rennie. When Jake expresses amazement that Clint was able to track him, Clint reveals that he set loose the horse Jake had brought for him and followed it to Cold Stream. Clint then demands that Jake take him to the buried money and when he refuses, Clint has Burke and Rennie bring in Peggy, whom they have abducted. Clint then announces that to assure Jake's compliance, Peggy will accompany them to the money. The next morning, on their way into the desert, Clint forces Jake to ride with his hands tied behind him, as Clint did when he was arrested. When the men set up camp that night, Clint tells Peggy about Jake's disloyalty. In a private moment later, Jake apologizes to Peggy for causing the dilemma and warns her that they may have only one opportunity to escape. The next day, after the bound Jake falls off his horse repeatedly, the men protest and Clint reluctantly agrees to untie Jake's hands. Jake immediately snatches Wexler's pistol and grabbing Peggy, tumbles down a sand dune into a canyon with her. Although the couple take the long way out of the canyon, Clint guesses Jake's plan and recaptures them. That night, Clint goads Jake into telling Peggy about their past. Jake explains that they were part of a Southern guerrilla outfit during the war, conducting looting raids that Clint insisted they continue after the war. Jake admits that during a bank robbery, a teenage boy was caught in the crossfire, prompting him to go straight. Clint scoffs, then demands to know when they will reach the buried money, and Jake promises they will be there the next day. The following afternoon the group meet a cavalry patrol and the commanding officer advises them to turn back because of the danger of Comanche attacks. Using Jake's identity as a marshal, Clint invents a story for being in the area and the lieutenant reluctantly allows them to proceed. The men are uneasy about riding into Indian territory and when Rennie shoots at coyotes, Wexler is outraged, certain that the shots will surely attract the Comanche. The group then arrives at a ghost town, where Jake reveals he has hidden the money. Jake spots three Indian scouts and after killing one, Clint declares he must go after the others to prevent them reporting their location. The others take shelter in the deserted saloon and tie Jake to a chair. While the men take turns keeping guard, Jake pleads with Ortero to save Peggy and return her to Cold Stream. As night falls, several calls are heard outside and Jake tells the men they are surrounded by Indians who will attack soon. When the others dart outside, Ortero tells Jake that he was not responsible for the teenager's death at the bank, but Clint allowed him to believe it in hopes of binding Jake to him. As the Indian calls intensify, Rennie anxiously tells the men they should flee as it is apparent Clint has abandoned them. The men return to the saloon and are bickering about escaping, when Clint abruptly returns. As Burke hysterically announces that they must go, he is killed by an Indian lance. The building is quickly surrounded by Indians and a vicious fight breaks out. Clint runs outside to fight and soon after, Wexler and Rennie are killed by Indian arrows. When an Indian breaks in, Jake distracts him and Peggy kills him with a lance. Peggy then cuts Jake's ropes, and as Clint and Ortero fight off the last of the Indians, they attempt to escape, but are caught by Clint. After Ortero buries the others, Clint asks Jake to take him to the money, and Jake reveals it is in a saddlebag, buried three feet deep in the cemetery. Jake digs up the saddlebag, then surprises Clint by pulling out a pistol from it. Although Clint suspects the gun will not function after spending a year underground, he eventually surrenders his gun as does Ortero. Jake then asks Ortero to take Peggy away and he agrees, despite her protests. After Ortero and Peggy depart, Jake gives Clint an opportunity to settle the score by tossing his gun several yards away. Frustrated, Clint dashes for the gun, while Jake hides among the dilapidated buildings, forcing Clint to search for him. After a tense game of "cat-and-mouse," Jake and Clint confront each other in the street and Jake kills Clint. Hearing the gunshots, Peggy and Ortero return for Jake.
De Forest Kelley
Walter J. Brown
Daniel B. Cathcart
Charles K. Hagedon
William A. Horning
Dr. Wesley C. Miller
The Law and Jake Wade
Sturges, who began at RKO in the 1930s as an editor, had an instinctive knack for the new widescreen formats of the fifties, as evidenced by the aforementioned classic and The Law and Jake Wade (1958), wherein reformed outlaw Robert Taylor is methodically stalked by his psychotic ex-partner Richard Widmark (the latter in a role reminiscent of his landmark Kiss of Death debut in 1947). With sinister support from the likes of Henry Silva, Robert Middleton and DeForest Kelley, The Law and Jake Wade intertwines nail biting tension with breathtaking anamorphic photography to create a new kind of adult Western for fifties audiences, one that explores the psychology of the characters while depicting their acts of violence.
In the book, Peter Bogdanovich on the Movies (George Allen & Unwin), Sturges expressed his views on the genre: "Western characters must not be glamorized. I'm a Westerner myself, and I can tell you I don't go for that Stuart Lake baloney. You can't make a Western if it's pretty. The men look like chorus boys, for Christ's sake. Always use a lot of back lighting, and don't let the star talk too much. John Ford, you know, made John Wayne a star by not letting him talk. But the absolute must for a Western is isolation. The man must be God. And you've gotta take issues that can only be resolved by guns."
Director: John Sturges
Producer: William Hawks
Screenplay: William Bowers, based on the novel by Marvin H. Albert
Cinematography: Robert Surtees
Editor: Ferris Webster
Art Direction: Daniel B. Cathcart, William A. Horning
Cast: Robert Taylor (Jake Wade), Richard Widmark (Clint Hollister), Patricia Owens (Peggy), Robert Middleton (Ortero), Henry Silva (Rennie).
C-87m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Mel Neuhaus
The Law and Jake Wade
Your father was a preacher?- Peggy Carter
Kind of a phony evangelist. I tell ya, he was about the meanest man I've ever met in my life. He just naturally liked to beat up on anything that was smaller than him. And of course, he could always say he was beating the fear of God into ya.- Rennie
Well, where is he now?- Peggy Carter
Well, I, ah, well I hope I know where he is. He was the first man I ever killed.- Rennie
Well, did you say a few words over the boys?- Clint Hollister
Very touching.- Clint Hollister
The film was shot on location in California's High Sierra mountain range, Lone Pine and Death Valley. According to a Hollywood Reporter April 1958 news item, The Law and Jake Wade marked the first time a major film studio used a "canned soundtrack" for background music. The item reveals that composer Bronislau Kaper had begun a score for the film, but due to a musicians' strike, M-G-M purchased a full-length recording from the library of Capitol Records and used it for the film's music track. Hollywood Reporter casting lists add Henry Wills, Karl Petti, Martha Crawford, Lennie Smith, Jack Williams, Lew Smith, and Wilson Wood to the cast, but their appearance in the film has not been confirmed.
Released in United States Summer June 1958
Released in United States Summer June 1958