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TECHNICOLOR 'HIGH SIERRA' REMAKE 'I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES'

Title: I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES Year: 1955 Rating: ***1/2

It's strange that I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES, the 1955 practically scene-for-scene remake of the Humphrey Bogart noir classic HIGH SIERRA, didn't keep the same title since they moved that mountainous backdrop even closer to the characters, where most of the dialogue-backed action takes place... 

A fishing retreat with Jack Palance in Bogart's shoes, fresh out of prison with a job to knock off a plush hotel full of jewelry; and like Bogart he isn't very thrilled with the gang he's in charge of...

Lee Marvin, Earl Holliman and Shelley Winters in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES

While Bogart looked older/more experienced, here Lee Marvin and Earl Holliman seem like Palance's contemporaries... and Jack's youthful countenance also hinders the b-story of his pitifully doomed love for farm girl Lori Nelson (having befriended her GRAPES OF WRATH-style clan), supposedly half his age yet they'd be perfected suited as lovers...

Although that's Shelley Winters' role, and in the Ida Lupino gun moll part she's almost an improvement... at least visually... seeming more the kind of homely-rough dance hall girl that Palace's Roy Earle is stuck with...

Jack Palance in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES

Technically, other than random dutch angles, THE GLASS KEY director Stuart Heisler's biggest change is altering the noir B&W to color (aka WarnerColor), providing gorgeous matte painting backdrops...

Meanwhile Perry Lopez fills in for Cornel Wilde as the targeted hotel's flaky employee/heist connection, and in place of the stereotypical black guy, who takes care of film's endearing bad luck canine, Pard, there's an equally cliche (and almost as intrusively annoying) Spanish lackey...

Lee Marvin, Earl Holliman, Shelley Winters in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES with Perry Lopez

Overall it's a shame TIMES stuck so religiously close to the original, because with genuine tough guys like Palance battering Lee Marvin after Earl Holliman threatens Marvin for being so damn... Lee Marvin... or Lon Chaney as the quotable sick-bed kingpin, there's a pretty decent late-noir just dying to get out... 

Which it does, on occasion... particularly during the couple's post-heist escape before the inevitable tragic Mount Whitney finale... but the original's shadow intentionally looms too large for DIED to find its own gritty groove and, truth be told, even the Raoul Walsh classic has its own inane moments that could've used some improvement. 

Jack Palance and Lon Chaney Jr. in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Jack Palance and Lon Chaney Jr. in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Dick Davalos, Lori Nelson and Jack Palance in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Jack Palance in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Jack Palance in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Jack Palance and Shelley Winters in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Jack Palance and Lori Nelson in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Lee Marvin, Earl Holliman, Shelley Winters in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES with Perry Lopez
Technicolor from I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Jack Palance and Shelley Winters in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES with Richard Davalos
Dennis Hopper in I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES

Jack Palance drives I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES
Warner Archives blue cover DVD of I Died a Thousand Times

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