The 1955 crime film, “I Died a Thousand Times.” is the third movie made from the W.R. Burnett novel, High Sierra, (book review here).
The first is the more famous picture, with the original title starring Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino (review here). The second, was a Western called “Colorado Territory,” starring Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo and was made by the same director as the first, Raoul Walsh.
“I Died a Thousand Times” stars Jack Palance as Roy Earl. Earl is a John Dillinger-type criminal recently paroled from an Illinois prison and on his way west to meet some guys who are planning to rob a resort hotel.
Palance was a better actor than people gave him credit for being – check out his performance in Elia Kazan’s “Panic in the Streets,” or in the original TV production of “Requiem for a Heavyweight.” In “I Died a Thousand Times,” Palance will make a viewer forget Bogart’s portrayal of Roy Earl. Palance is edgier and more physically dangerous than Bogie.
His hold-up crew, played by Earl Holliman and Lee Marvin, are also more dangerous than the actors in the earlier film.
The only misstep in “I Died a Thousand Times” was the casting of Shelly Winters in the part originally played by Ida Lupino. Winters and Palance do not connect.
Director Stuart Heisler, a long-time Hollywood craftsman, kept the whole thing moving. This wide-screen, color production is worth watching for Palance, Marvin and Holliman.