Cast & Crew
In the 1800s, Jim Kipp, a surly and self-reliant bounty hunter, is hired by the Pinkerton Agency to solve a year-old case that has stumped them. Kipp, who is notorious for bringing in his quarry dead, is to capture three murderous train robbers and the $100,000 they stole while killing and maiming bystanders. Kipp is told that the robbers were masked, so they have not been identified, that the marked bills they stole have never turned up and that one of the robbers was shot in the right leg. Kipp begins his search at the remote trading post where the robbers were last seen. After learning from the proprietor that the men bought enough supplies for three days, Kipp proceeds to the only town that can be reached in that amount of time, Twin Forks, which is booming after the discovery of copper in the nearby hills. Kip signs in with a fictitious name at the town's hotel and becomes suspicious of the proprietor, Bill Rackin, as he has an injured leg and evades questions. Kipp also asks Dr. Spencer if he treated a man for a gunshot wound on the leg, but the doctor answers vaguely. Spencer's daughter Julie, who finds Kipp personable, remembers that three men came to the doctor during the night approximately a year before, but Spencer stops her from talking about it. The townspeople seem nervous about Kipp's investigation. Sheriff Brand is rude and the flirtatious barmaid Alice tries to pump him for information. In the evening, Kipp is attacked by Vance Edwards, a young, reformed, escaped convict, who thinks Kipp is there to arrest him. After hearing Vance's explanation, Kipp lets him go, but during the commotion, Kipp's real identity is revealed to the crowd. By morning, the town is nervously buzzing, wondering whom Kipp is pursuing, but he admits that he is uncertain of his prey's identity. Julie cools toward Kip when she learns that he is a bounty hunter. However, at home, Julie gets Spencer to admit that the robbers are three prominent citizens of the town, who forced him at gunpoint to treat a leg wound, and who will take revenge if he talks. Meanwhile, at the saloon, Alice tries to sell Kipp information, but Kipp feigns disinterest. Then, in his hotel room, Kipp must placate a woman who mistakenly believes he killed her outlaw son. Brand condescendingly says he is trying to protect Kipp from hostile townspeople, and a group of aldermen try to bribe Kipp to leave, because most of them have a past that everyone overlooks, as long as they behave in town. After the townspeople make various attempts to hinder his investigation, Kipp tells the postmaster, Danvers, that he expects to receive a photograph of one of the robbers on the next mail stage. Julie sees how Kipp's presence agitates her father and accuses Kipp of being a cold-blooded mercenary, who could do more good as a real lawman. Kipp is unmoved by her criticism and confides how outlaws killed his father, and that he takes revenge on the criminals whose careers he ends. Meanwhile, Spencer, after serious introspection, loads his gun and proceeds to the saloon, where he tells the blackjack dealer, George Williams, to call his "bosses" together. Although Spencer plans to warn the robbers to leave town before Kipp makes an arrest, Williams shoots him. When Kipp corners Williams, Brand shoots the man before he can tell what he knows. Alice, who now reveals that she was secretly married to Williams, tells Kipp that he was not involved in the robbery and that the false information she tried to sell Kipp was meant to steer him away from town. Although Spencer has lost consciousness, he survives his gunshot wound, but Danvers tries to suffocate him. When Julie catches him in the act, Danvers flees to where the stolen money is buried, unaware that Kipp is following. However, as Kipp watches, Danvers is shot dead by an unseen killer. The stagecoach arrives in town later, and Brand, while preventing Kipp from looking at his mail, exposes himself as one of the bandits. With Vance's help, Kipp subdues Brand and orders him to reveal the third robber. As they talk, Julie sees Alice, who is disguised as a man, sneak up from behind and shoot Brand. Julie wrestles with Alice to protect Kipp. After Kipp discovers that Alice has a scar on her right leg, the barmaid confesses to being the third bandit. Meanwhile, the townspeople discover that the item Kipp claimed was a photo of one of the robbers was just an advertisement for liniment. Later, when bushwhackers come to town making trouble, Julie tells them that her husband Kipp is sheriff and invites them to tea. However, the interlopers race off upon hearing the name of the notorious ex-bounty hunter.
Mary Lou Holloway
Maurice De Packh
Francis J. Scheid
Alma D. Young
The Bounty Hunter (1954)
In The Bounty Hunter, Scott's portrayal of a single-minded, cold yet heroic killer hunting down three outlaws particularly looks ahead to the Boetticher pictures, especially Ride Lonesome (1959). As one character tells him here, "You'd turn your grandmother in on her birthday if there was a reward for her." And Scott agrees.
Shot in about six weeks during the summer of 1953, The Bounty Hunter was not released until September 1954. The delay might have been due to the decision to release the film in 2D, despite having been filmed in 3D. Several pieces of action were clearly designed for the third dimension, with things being tossed at the camera. Andre De Toth, of course, despite having only one eye, had already directed the most famous 3D film of all time, House of Wax (1953). He also shot the Scott western The Stranger Wore a Gun in 3D.
In an interview book with historian Anthony Slide (De Toth on De Toth: Putting the Drama in Front of the Camera), the director reflected on working with Randolph Scott. "I believe Randolph Scott could have gone further as a performer," he said. "He was a handsome man; took showers twice a day, I believe. He was a man whose shoes shined. But he had a tremendous inferiority complex about his acting ability and that made him so stiff... Good actor, he wasn't. He was Randy Scott. Which had advantages, but no surprises."
When asked why he ended the collaboration after The Bounty Hunter, De Toth said: "I had the feeling that I was at a dead end. There was less and less left in me to give... [Scott] was a nice, brittle old gentleman and I couldn't get blood out of an abacus anymore." Luckily for filmgoers ever since, Budd Boetticher was able to get the "blood" flowing again two years later, when production began on Seven Men From Now, the western that revitalized Scott's career.
In the end, The Bounty Hunter came and went as a better than average Randolph Scott western, with Variety casually proclaiming, "Scott takes easily to his saddle and gun chores, playing with the authority of long experience." The Hollywood Reporter said, "Scott gives a driving, hard-boiled performance that makes you hope this film will do for him what High Noon did for Gary Cooper." Historians generally rank this movie somewhere in the middle of the De Toth/Scott series, with Carson City as perhaps the best and The Stranger Wore a Gun as the weakest.
Producer: Samuel Bischoff
Director: Andre de Toth
Screenplay: Winston Miller (screenplay and story); Finlay McDermid (story)
Cinematography: Edwin DuPar
Art Direction: Stanley Fleischer
Music: David Buttolph
Film Editing: Clarence Kolster
Cast: Randolph Scott (Jim Kipp/James Collins), Dolores Dorn (Julie Spencer), Marie Windsor (Alice Williams), Howard Petrie (Sheriff Brand), Harry Antrim (Dr. R.L. Spencer), Robert Keys (George Williams), Ernest Borgnine (Bill Rachin), Dubb Taylor (Eli Danvers, Postmaster), Tyler MacDuff (Vance Edwards), Archie Twitchell (Harrison).
by Jeremy Arnold
The Bounty Hunter (1954)
TCM Remembers Andre de Toth
Born in Mako, Hungary to the son of a civil engineer, De Toth showed an early artistic bent, having his first exhibit of paintings and sculpture at age 14 and seeing his first play produced at age 18. After obtaining his law degree from the University of Budapest, he began acting, writing and working as a cameraman for cinematographer Istvan Eiben. In 1939, he went to England, where he worked as a second unit director for Alexander Korda on The Thief of Bagdad and other films. De Toth immigrated to Hollywood in the early '40s, and worked with Korda on The Jungle Book (1942) and several other films.
He made his Hollywood directing debut with the 1943 feature, Passport to Suez, a propaganda thriller about the Nazis wanting to bomb the Suez Canal.
Impressed with his ability, Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, put the director under contract for one film and the result, None Shall Escape (1944), launched his Hollywood career. This tense, sensitive drama about a Nazi officer made to examine his actions was fascinating in its structure: Set after the war's end, the film centers around the trial of a Nazi butcher, Wilhelm Grimm (Alexander Knox), in Poland and makes excellent use of flashbacks illustrating the prosecution's testimony to form the bulk of the film. In a way, the film predicted the Nuremberg Trials after the war.
de Toth earned considerable critical acclaim with the taut, intense noir thriller Pitfall (1948) which he co-wrote. Starring Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott and Raymond Burr, this story of a bored insurance salesman who embarks on an affair because he feels stifled in his picture-perfect home (a devoted wife, son, nice house, successful career, etc.) was striking as one of the first films to examine the American dream gone sour. De Toth followed that with a shared Oscar nomination with William Bowers for Best Original Motion Picture Story for The Gunfighter (1950), a haunting character study of a killer (Gregory Peck) trying to live down his past.
His biggest commercial hit came with House of Wax (1953), the movie that launched Vincent Price's horror film career and is still regarded as the best of all three-dimensional films to be released during that period. Unlike other directors who seemed to be dabbling with a new technique, De Toth emphasized character and plot over the special effects: Price was a sculptor rebuilding his wax figure collection (destroyed by fire) by making statues out of his murder victims. The one-eyed de Toth was an odd choice to helm a 3-D film as he could not experience the stereoscopic process, having lost an eye in his youth, but he persevered and it was the most successful 3-D film of its day.
De Toth followed that hit with some fine films: Crime Wave (1954), a hostage thriller that boasts some fine performances by Sterling Hayden and Gene Nelson and excellent location shooting on the streets of Los Angeles; The Indian Fighter (1955) an exciting Kirk Douglas vehicle about a wagon master leading his train through rough territory that won accolades for depicting the Native Americans with more depth than contemporary directors; and Day of the Outlaw (1959), the stark, stylish, low budget western about an outlaw (Burl Ives) and his gang taking over taking a small town and matching wits with one of its citizens (Robert Ryan). For many, this film best articulated many of the recurring themes in De Toth's work that would be evaluated only decades later by film scholars: survival, betrayal, the capacity for evil and complexities of human relationships.
In the early sixties film work became increasingly scarce for De Toth and he found himself relegated to directing for television: Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip and The Westerner. Tired of the limitations he was finding in Hollywood, De Toth headed to Europe in the '60s, where he found work as an uncredited consultant and location scout on David Lean's extravagant Lawrence of Arabia (1962). He directed a few films abroad, the best of which was the World War II action film Play Dirty (1968), starring Michael Caine, and then he more or less retired from active filmmaking. It was not until recently that De Toth began to receive critical recognition for his entertaining body of work. The last few years have seen several retrospectives and he enjoyed a renewed popularity at film festivals from Scotland to San Francisco. His contributions to film were recognized with the 1995 life achievement prize by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the publication of his autobiography, Fragments: Portraits From the Inside, as well as an interview book, De Toth on De Toth, by Anthony Slide. De Toth was married for a time to Veronica Lake (1944-1952) with whom he had two children. He is survived by his wife, Ann Green.
by Michael T. Toole
TCM Remembers Andre de Toth
The following written foreword appears after the opening credits: "During the early days when civilization was pushing its frontiers farther and farther west, there roamed a special breed of men...neither outlaws nor officers of the law, yet more feared than either. For reward money...they tracked down criminals, wanted Dead or Alive, and made themselves both judge and executioner in some lonely court of no appeal. They were called 'Bounty Hunters.'" According to the Daily Variety review, the film, which was released as a wide-screen feature, was originally planned as a 3-D venture. Portions of the film were shot at Red Rock Canyon and Mojave Desert, CA, according to an August 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item. The Hollywood Reporter review erroneously lists the running time as 88 minutes. The Bounty Hunter marked the screen debut of Dolores Dorn.
Released in United States Summer August 1954
Released in United States Summer August 1954