» » The Last Sunset (1961)

Short summary

Brendan O'Malley arrives at the Mexican home of old flame Belle Breckenridge to find her married to a drunkard getting ready for a cattle drive to Texas. Hot on O'Malley's heels is lawman Dana Stribling who has a personal reason for getting him back into his jurisdiction. Both men join Breckenridge and his wife on the drive. As they near Texas tensions mount, not least because Stribling is starting to court Belle and O'Malley is increasingly drawn by her daughter Missy.

Filming of the cattle drive proved problematic as the bulls would frequently be seen mounting the cows.

Although Joseph Cotten brought all his own food and water from the States to the shoot in Mexico, it was to no avail. He was the first of the film crew to get sick.

Rock Hudson drew unstinting praise from Director Robert Aldrich, who was enormously impressed with his lack of ego and sheer professionalism.

Lauren Bacall was offered the role of Belle Breckinridge, but found the subject matter to be rather offensive.

Kirk Douglas' relationship with Director Robert Aldrich got off to a rocky start as Aldrich arrived in Mexico with five other writers who were all working on his upcoming projects. Douglas was incensed that Aldrich's full attention was not directed towards this movie, so insisted that the writers be dispatched back to Hollywood. The relationship between the two men remained cool after that.

This movie had a major influence on Sergio Leone, who worked with Director Robert Aldrich on Sodom and Gomorrah (1962).

Kirk Douglas optioned the property for his production company Byrna, and was in the midst of supervising the editing of Spartacus (1960) when he got an impassioned letter from Robert Aldrich, lobbying for the job of director.

Kirk Douglas and Robert Aldrich originally wanted Ava Gardner for the Dorothy Malone part.

Among some of the more ludicrous titles that Universal proposed for the film were "The Magnificent Two", "The Majestic Brutes", "Seething Guns", "The Fuel and the Fire", "Two to Make Hate", "Death is My Middle Name", and "Appointment with a Dead Sun".

Robert Aldrich did not enjoy his experience making the film as he felt that the screenplay wasn't in the best shape it could be. Unfortunately, they had to run with what they had, as Communist Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was busy working on Otto Preminger's Exodus (1960) at the time.

Carol Lynley's next project which premiered a couple of weeks later was as Alison McKenzie in Return to Peyton Place (1961). Dorothy Malone signed up for Peyton Place (1964) as Constance McKenzie, but this time her daughter Alison was played by Mia Farrow.

Goof, not a point of trivia: When Brendan "Bren" O'Malley (Kirk Douglas) leaves Melissa "Missy" Breckenridge (Carol Lynley) by the stream, he looks at the setting sun and says he'll be back when the sun sets. He then goes into town for the final showdown with Dana Stribling (Rock Hudson). When they are facing off, the sun is directly overhead.

Throughout filming, this movie was known by the working title "Day of the Gun", and the title was changed very late in post-production. Director Robert Aldrich later called the filming "an extremely unpleasant experience", and claimed that the script needed more work, but added that he thought Communist Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was "two thousand percent right" to involve himself in other projects at the expense of this one, as he was just coming off the blacklist after more than ten years, and needed to re-assert himself in the Hollywood community.

No gunfighter would use a 2 shot unloaded short range derringer against a loaded 6 shot Colt .45. No one in his right mind, of course, except in a Hollywood western with a disappointing ending.

It is not too believable that 6 of the trail drivers were also musicians (harmonica, guitar, violin, accordion, clarinet, and snare drum), ready and willing to play around the campfire after 10 or 12 hours of herding cows and breathing dust. Welcome to Hollywood.

Someone commented that between the shots of Rock Hudson's horse in the quicksand that his horse was at different depths. Well, of couse, they were sinking.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Binthars
    Enemies Bren O'Malley and Dana Stribling confront each other in Mexico, and are then hired by the Breckenridge family to help drive a herd of cattle north to Texas. The two men observe a truce which will last until they have crossed the Rio Grande, but at sunset on the first day back in Texas, there will be a reckoning. For one of them, it will be the last sunset.

    Made in 1961, this film is a fine example of an art form that was dying - the 1950's western. John Wayne carried on making them for a few years more (and arguably up to "The Shootist"), but by 1964, three years after this picture, the Spaghetti Western had arrived, and the genre was transformed for ever. The 1950's in Europe and America was an era of social stability - some would say stagnation - and the western reflected the values of the rigid, disciplined society which produced it. Plots did not vary much, innovation not being something that audiences craved, and storylines turned on predictable devices like cattle stampedes, indians on the skyline, fast draws and a man doing what a man's got to do. This film happens to contain all of these stock ingredients.

    Man's desire for woman is a theme running through the story in deftly-worked permutations. Dalton Trumbo's better than average script has older men lusting after younger women, men harbouring fantasies of lost love, bad guys leering at decent matrons, and much more. Belle is made a chattle in her husband's droving contract, and receives a new proposal of marriage under the flying buttresses of a Mexican church. In keeping with the film's symbolic structure, she reserves her response until the Rio Grande has been crossed (Mexico seems to preserve the Americans in aspic, preventing them from advancing their plans, just as the church architecture encloses Belle and her lover).

    "The Last Sunset" is several cuts above the average western. Its plot situation, the pursuit of one man by another and the involvement of a ranching family, is neatly established at the outset with minimal dialogue. The immediate sexual electricity between O'Malley and Belle engages the viewer, and O'Malley's little comic touches convey his charm and 'open him up' for the viewer. Belle's inner conflict is quickly made plain for us, and O'Malley's behaviour (graciously allowing her to leave the barn) is psychologically interesting, suggesting that he is certain of her. We want to know more about these characters. Much is achieved with the merest of glances, as when Breckenridge tells O'Malley "everything that's mine is yours", and O'Malley darts a look at Belle, or the glance thrown by Stribling when he realises why O'Malley is taking the appalling risk of returning to Texas.

    Expert editing by Michael Luciano enhances the effectiveness of the movie considerably. When O'Malley teaches the Julesburg Kid a lesson on horseback, elliptical cutting skilfully evokes the Kid's sense of dizziness and confusion. At the final shoot-out, the accelerating rapidity of the cuts increases the tension brilliantly. There is one small lapse at the start of the cattle drive - the pick-up shot of O'Malley fording the river (overcast sky) does not match the master shot (bright sunshine).

    O'Malley's song, "Pretty Girl In The Yellow Dress", runs through the film as a motif. It is a central symbol, because O'Malley's idealistic and doomed vision of Belle is transferred to Missy when she dons the dress - "a new smell to follow".

    Admirable though it is, the film does have some weak points. Would Breckenridge REALLY accept O'Malley's second precondition? Would the wily O'Malley REALLY shoot the indian so rashly? The grassy bank on which O'Malley and Missy recline is patently a studio fabrication, bearing no resemblance to the parched earth of the location shots. Stribling's final comment on the derringer is clumsy overkill. We all got the point.

    Good use is made of locations, especially old Spanish architecture like the crumbling aqueduct. The brick arches seem to be enveloping the Americans, just as their lives are stalled by being here in Mexico. Attractively-shot silhouettes adorn the dust-storm sequence, particularly during the quicksand episode. Once back in Texas, O'Malley is emblematically shut in by corral fences, a man left with nowhere to go. The film's great punchline, delivered by Belle on the verandah, is truly shocking.

    Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson, O'Malley and Stribling respectively, appear above the title (Douglas's own production company, named after his mother, financed the picture). Douglas is appealing and charismatic in one of his many 'generous-hearted bad guy' roles. Hudson is perfectly adequate in the straight-down-the-line part of Stribling, and looks terrific. The character of Belle, with her internal contradictions and the aura of having been buffeted by life, calls for an actress with both beauty and intelligence. Dorothy Malone is ideal in the role. Carol Lynley does very well as Missy, making a great transition from gawky kid to radiant woman. If Joseph Cotten fails to shine, it must be said that the part of Breckenridge is a dreary one. Neville Brand and Jack Elam turn in stock performances: as jobbing bad guys throughout the 1950's and early 60's, they must hardly ever have needed to shave.

    Verdict - Interesting western with powerful denouement.
  • comment
    • Author: Ger
    The one and only teaming of Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson in The Last Sunset was a fortunate one. Kirk's production company Bryna put this film together and the wise Kirk knew what he was doing when he took the flashier and meatier part of the villain.

    In that regard The Last Sunset is similar to Gunfight at the OK Corral where the straight arrow hero of Wyatt Earp played by Burt Lancaster took a definite second place to Douglas's Doc Holiday. As Brendan O'Malley, Douglas is one devilishly charming one with the ladies and fast on the draw as all get out.

    In fact Douglas's libido seems to get him in a whole lot of trouble. It's the reason that sheriff Dana Stribling played by Rock Hudson is down and out of his jurisdiction in Mexico chasing O'Malley. It's more than a job with Stribling as you'll see in the film.

    While in Mexico Douglas meets an old flame of his, Dorothy Malone there with her husband Joseph Cotten and daughter Carol Lynley. Both he and Hudson strike an unusual bargain with the family. They'll aid them in their cattle drive to the American side of the Rio Grande, but then Douglas and Hudson will have it out.

    Sounds crazy, but all will be revealed to the viewer before the film is over, although I'm sure some will guess.

    Hudson got the far less glamorous part of a straight law and order sheriff. He has his moments, but the film really turns on the personality and charm and considerable talent of Kirk Douglas. This is definitely one of his top ten performances on film. Sad it isn't shown more often.

    Dorothy Malone was doing very well around this time as a portrayer of western women. Her career really took off after that Oscar in Written on the Wind. She's the epitome of a strong willed pioneer woman who had to bend a few conventions to survive.

    The Last Sunset is a great western, the usual amount of traditional western activity with some very adult themes in this which I just can't reveal lest it ruin one's viewing.
  • comment
    • Author: Original
    Major portions of this movie were filmed on my grandfather's ranch "La Presa" in Aguascalientes, Mexico. My family and the locals still remember the excitement of hosting Hollywood stars and a film crew in such an unlikely place. Throughout the film the actors make factually correct references to the local villages and towns. And although most of these people only viewed the movie once (during its initial run in 1961) they remember the plot and the excitement of hearing the names of their villages uttered by stars on the big screen. And while Aguascalientes cannot claim to be a cult destination a la "Giant" (Rock Hudson again), they remain proud of their footnote in film history.

    I personally recall the loud arguments my father (living in the USA at the time) would have with his cousin Salvador, who swore that Rock Hudson had been seen in town with the local (and few) homosexuals. In 1961, my father believed that it was impossible for Rock to be anything but the All-American (straight) male image he projected on the screen. My dad laughs about it now.
  • comment
    • Author: Winenama
    The Last Sunset is directed by Robert Aldrich and adapted by Dalton Trumbo from Howard Rigsby's novel Sundown at Crazy Horse. It stars Rock Hudson, Kirk Douglas, Dorothy Malone, Joseph Cotton and Carol Lynley. In support are Jack Elam, Neville Brand & James Westmoreland. The music score is by Ernest Gold, with contributions from Dimitri Tiomkin & Tomás Méndez, and Ernest Laszlo is the cinematographer. It's shot in Eastman Color by Pathe, with the locations for the shoot being Aguascalientes & Distrito Federal in Mexico.

    Brendan O'Malley (Douglas) is on the run and drifts into Mexico where he arrives at the home of old flame Belle Breckenridge (Malone). She resides with her drunkard husband John (Cotton) and her daughter Melissa, they are in preparation for a cattle drive to Texas. Hot on O'Malley's heels is lawman Dana Stribling (Hudson) who has a very personal reason for getting him back for justice to be served. Making an uneasy agreement, both men join the Breckenridge's on the drive. As they near Texas the tensions start to mount, not least because Stribling is starting to court Belle and O'Malley is increasingly drawn by her daughter Missy.

    Lyrical, contemplative and evocative, three words you wouldn't readily associate with the director of Ulzana's Raid, The Longest Yard and The Dirty Dozen. Yet all three words are very fitting for this underseen Robert Aldrich movie. Although containing many of the basic elements that made up the American Western film's of the 50s, The Last Sunset has a very intriguing screenplay by Trumbo from which to flourish. The story is crammed full of sexual neurosis, yearnings, regret, hate, revenge and forbidden love. If that all sounds very "Greek Tragedy" then that's probably about right, as is the film being likened to a Western done by Douglas Sirk. It is melodramatic, but it does have moments of levity and up tempo action sequences, too. It's a very rounded picture, with very well formed characters, characters very well brought to life by the mostly on form cast. All played out amongst some gorgeous scenic panorama's that Aldrich and Laszlo have managed to make seem as poetic observers to the unfolding drama.

    Some of it's odd, and the film is far from flawless (Cotten is poor, Elam & Brand underused), but the little irks are easily forgiven when judging the film as a whole. Lyrical, contemplative and evocative: indeed. 8/10
  • comment
    • Author: Wal
    An unpretentious Western told in an honest, straightforward manner.

    Robert Aldrich does a very controlled job directing a story straddling the Texas Mexico border, a story told at a steady pace but rarely reaching memorable highs. The film has many elements of the classic Western including a chase, cattle drive and gunfight but it also tries to add some melodramatic, pure story based elements - though one major plot point was so well signposted, it might as well have been included in the opening credits.

    Kirk Douglas, as Brendan O'Malley, provides the barely controlled dynamism at the centre of the film. Unfortunately, not all parts of the film are to this standard. Rock Hudson has difficulties with the role of the upstanding sheriff. A strong supporting cast, from Joseph Cotton to Jack Elam, provides a wide, interesting range of characters.

    Overall, a solid if unspectacular film, recommended for Western and Kirk Douglas fans. 6.75.
  • comment
    • Author: Zololmaran
    Terrific western-drama from director Robert Aldrich has sheriff Rock Hudson tracking lawless Kirk Douglas to a rancher's homestead; they soon find themselves agreeing to take part in a grueling cattle-drive, and to work out their differences along the way. Breathtakingly photographed adventure has three-dimensional characters, good writing by Dalton Trumbo and solid acting (particularly by Douglas and fresh-faced Carol Lynley, well-cast as a youngster with a crush on Kirk). The melodrama gets a little thick at times, though odd flickers of humor quickly intercede whenever things start to get too mawkish. *** from ****
  • comment
    • Author: Moonshaper
    While more "chick flick" than western, "The Last Sunset" is, nonetheless, a great movie. World class performances from Kirk Douglas, Dorothy Malone and Carol Lynley, and a very good one from Rock Hudson (who struggles with a character who becomes increasingly irrelevant) highlight this effort. The plot elements border on soap, but so do many of Shakespeare's, and there's that level of poetic beauty in "…Sunset".

    Kirk Douglas plays O'Malley, a charming but ruthless gunfighter, who has escaped justice to Mexico. But O'Malley reasons for being in Mexico are far greater than sanctuary; for O'Malley has reached a point in his life where he longs for more than the usual pleasures. O'Malley has learned his "lost love" is living in Mexico and he intends to have her.

    Dorothy Malone plays Belle, O'Malley's "lost love". Belle has settled into conventional life with an alcoholic husband (Joseph Cotton) and a sweet, lovely, but willful teenage daughter (baby-faced Carol Lynley). They own a small ranch and plan to move a cattle herd to Texas.

    Rock Hudson plays the sheriff pursuing O'Malley for his own reasons. Hudson's character is more a symbol than a real person, signifying snap judgment and retribution giving way to more nuanced evaluation of O'Malley's life and character.

    I first saw "…Sunset" when I was thirteen, and it had more influence on my feelings about unselfish love than all the years I spent going to church. While I freely admit my wife and I shed tears at some movies, only "The Last Sunset" left us both openly sobbing at the end.

    WARNING: SPOILER Douglas' choice to duel Hudson with an unloaded gun was much less a choice for suicide than a determination to protect his daughter (Lynley) from the consequences of their feelings for each other. Douglas sacrificed his life for his daughter's happiness and left her with a beautiful, loving memory of a man who was far better than anyone but God would have ever believed.

    END OF SPOILER Sadly and, for whatever reason, "The Last Sunset" has been nearly forgotten. While prints screened on TCM are usually pristine, the print of "…Sunset" was noticeably damaged.

    "The Last Sunset" is beautifully photographed, directed and scored, touchingly written and gets better with repeated viewings. What more can one ask? I give "The Last Sunset" a "9".
  • comment
    • Author: Coiron
    The gunman Brendan O'Malley (Kirk Douglas) crosses the border riding to Mexico and arrives at the ranch of Belle Breckenridge (Dorothy Malone). He asks to spend the night in the place and meets her daughter Melissa (Carol Lynley). Belle was his sweetheart and now is married with the drunkard and coward John Breckenridge (Joseph Cotton), but O'Malley still has a crush on her. John hires O'Malley to lead his herd to Texas; however, Sheriff Dana Stribling (Rock Hudson) is hunting O'Malley to serve a warrant for the death of his brother-in-law and also arrives in the farm, where he does not have jurisdiction to arrest O'Malley. Stribling also accepts to work for John, bringing the cattle to Texas, and promises to deliver O'Malley to the law in the arrival. Along their journey, John dies and the travelers face Indians and outlaws; Stribling woos and is flirted by Belle, increasing the tension between the two men. Nevertheless, Missy falls in love for O'Malley and seduces him, but Belle discloses a secret that leads O'Malley to an ultimate decision in the last sunset in the borderland.

    "The Last Sunset" is an unforgettable western with a mature romance and a plot point with a subtle incestuous relationship that leads to a tragic conclusion. The cinematography and the camera work are impressive with amazing sequences in the desert with actors, actresses and stunts riding horses and conducting cattle in the sandy soil. Kirk Douglas, Rock Hudson, Dorothy Malone and Carol Lynley have remarkable performances, and the beauty of Carol Lynley is something awesome with her doll face. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "O Último Pôr-do-Sol" ("The Last Sunset")
  • comment
    • Author: Lailace
    As always an incredible performance by Kirk Douglas as an outlaw/ drifter on a quest to meet his great love. He's being chased by a Texas lawman played by Rock Hudson. Despite the venue, horses, cattle drive and Mexicans this isn't really a western IMHO. It's a love story draped with western gear. Jack Elam & Neville Brand are essentially wasted. Joseph Cotten as the husband of Douglas' lost love is a sympathetic drunk who gets the kind of back draw justice you might in a Mexican bar. Carol Lynley is beautiful as Dorothy Malone's daughter and Kirk's replacement love interest. The tale feels like it has Biblical elements to it on it's most important level. Ultimately it's worth watching for Kirk's performance whether angry, charming or in love. The crime of which he is accused is clearly just a plot device to get everybody together. I just kept wondering how hot it must be dressed in black in Mexico on a cattle drive?
  • comment
    • Author: Boyn
    A weird Western by the maestro Robert Aldrich , it deals with Brendan O'Malley,(Kirk Douglas) a previous gunslinger, arrives in Mexico to meet her old lover Belle Breckenridge ( Dorothy Malone) ,married to alcoholic rancher, John Breckenridge (Joseph Cotten), as he is hired and prepares to lead a flock to Texas. In the footsteps of O'Malley goes Dana Stribling,(Rod Hudson), a vindictive sheriff who seeks revenge because O'Malley killed his brother-in-law. Both of them are joined on a cattle drive to Breckenridge , his wife Belle and daughter Missy. The tension will enhance when Stribling starts to woo Belle and O'Malley his daughter Missy (Carol Linley).

    This is a typical but amazing Western with romantic touches, it's well written by the blacklisted Dalton Trumbo and led by Aldrich with an impressive agility , harmony and strength . This interesting film keeps afloat by the skills of their all star cast , but driven along by powerful direction which compels and sustains interest by careful concentration of the interpretations themselves. The relationship between Kirk Douglas and the adolescent girl marvelously played by Carol Linley is wonderful , with some moments that result to be deeply sensible and the chemical between Hudson and Douglas is also evident, and Kirk Douglas comes out in its action. Douglas makes the best interpretation of the film , laughing, dancing and singing Mexican songs , but his role is really impulsive and tragic. Rock Hudson as Stribling also makes a nice character , he plays an exciting cat-and mouse game with O'Malley. Both females , Dorothy Malone and his daughter Carol Lynley show an amazing beauty, they play pretty well their characters. And of course, phenomenal Joseph Cotten who steals the show as a veteran confederate drunk. Filmed in colorful cinematography by Ernest Laszlo , perfectly remasterized, it is shot on locations in Aguascalients and Mexico City Distrito Federal. It contains an atmospheric and appropriate musical score by Ernest Gold .The motion picture is well directed by Robert Aldrich , an expert on violent Western such as he proved in ¨ Veracruz ¨, ¨Apache¨and ¨Ulzana's raid ¨, but also on humorous Western as ¨Four for Texas¨ and ¨the Frisko kid¨ . The talent for vigorous Western/tragedy that Aldrich shows was never as evident again. Rating : very good, better than average and wholesome watching.
  • comment
    • Author: kinder
    A lawman (Hudson) and an outlaw (Douglas) join a trail drive where they meet rivalry, romance and danger.

    Looks like Douglas' production company Brynaprod was aiming for an epic western on the order of Red River (1948). In terms of cinematic sweep and star-studded cast, they got it. The trail herd and surrounding vistas suggest a grand scale western. The problem is the rest of the film fails to equal that impressive dimension.

    Now director Aldrich can do epic westerns better than most, as his estimable Vera Cruz (1954) shows. Here, however, he's saddled with four marquee performers, each of whom requires screen time equal to his or her status. That means the pacing gets disrupted by lengthy cameo scenes, especially the drawn-out romantic scenes. Thus the film tends to lumber rather than unfold.

    Then too, scripter Trumbo can do screenplays with the best. Here, however, he's faced with the same problem and what we get is a meandering story, more contrived than most. The four main adults perform well enough; however, an 18-year old Lynley, even if she does bring in a younger audience, appears distinctly out of place on a trail drive, especially since she looks and acts like a malt shop refugee.

    It also looks like the main force behind the on-screen results is Douglas himself. Hudson may get top billing, but the dramatics belong to O'Malley (Douglas). All in all, the movie boils down to a showcase for Douglas' many moods, including that overblown repose-in-death scene, lacking only a violin accompaniment.

    Also looks to me like most any Hollywood actor could have handled Hudson's rather one- dimensional role as the straight shooting Stribling. It's a rather odd career choice for Hudson then at the peak of his box-office. (And what's with wasting such first-rate baddies as Brand and Elam, who may build up the supporting cast, but get little dialog or screen time. Ditto for the abandoned Regis Toomey, except I'm not sure who he's supposed to be.)

    Moreover, I'm still puzzled over how the script's one interesting idea, the incest angle, is supposed to play out. Specifically, why is there a romantic haystack scene (Douglas & Lynley) following O'Malley's discovery about Missy.

    Now, one way of looking at that scene is to view O' Malley as in a predicament. On one hand, he's been "intimate" with Missy, while on the other, he's likely her father. His predicament is that he can't tell her the facts since it might well ruin her life. At the same time, he doesn't want to hurt her feelings by suddenly ending the romance. So he tries to ease out of the relationship in the haystack scene. That may help her situation, but he's left with the grim knowledge for which there's only one solution, which he takes, thus providing motivation for throwing the shootout.

    I don't know if this is what Trumbo had in mind. After all, I may have missed something. But it is one interpretation for an otherwise puzzling scene.

    The movie does have one unusual and really riveting scene. The courtly John Breckenridge (Cotton) is challenged by saloon room thugs to drop his pants in order to show a war wound and avoid a shootout. It's humiliating for the southern gentleman, to say the least, and is unlike any other saloon dust-up that I've seen. Too bad that Cotten, a fine actor and character here, drops out so soon.

    Nonetheless, considering all the talent involved, the film adds up to a disappointing two hours of lumbering horse opera. Frankly, I'm not surprised this was Brynaprod's final production.

    (In passing—I can't help noticing that the Colorado-born Trumbo works two obscure Colorado towns into his script— Breckenridge and Julesburg. Such, I guess, are perquisites of screen writing.)
  • comment
    • Author: black coffe
    The Last Sunset is an interesting western that is more story driven than many earlier westerns. A fugitive and a lawman chasing him join a cattle drive and take an interest in a woman and her daughter.

    Although a bit too plodding in places, there are enough surprises throughout the film to make this a less predictable film than many of it's contemporaries. It all builds towards a surprising and welcome ending.

    Kirk Douglas is at his captivating best as the anti-hero. He easily outshines Rock Hudson but to be fair his character is far more interesting. Good support is provided by Dorothy Malone and I thought Carol Lynley did a good job as the daughter.

    With a more energetic script this really could have been a great western and it's a shame that despite the great final scenes, it is merely above average. Saying that it's still worth watching for fans of the western genre.
  • comment
    • Author: Alsalar
    The hunter and hunted plot has been used in many a Western movie. Some have been exceptional films – "The Searchers" with John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter and Natalie Wood; Charles Bronson and Henry Fonda in "Once Upon a Time in West;" and James Stewart and others in "The Man from Laramie." Many such films become formulaic but still manage to entertain for their suspense, scenery and frequent action with gun play – if not for their acting.

    "The Last Sunset" isn't in the top tier of such Westerns, but it's not far off. Where this film excels is in its cast of notable roles and in the different twists from the usual plot of hunter-hunted films. There are just enough twists here to give it a refreshing feel. To say much more would be to give away the plot and enjoyment on first viewing. Suffice it in this review to draw attention to the difference in the usual theme, and to note something on the quality.

    The acting is very good all around. Joseph Cotton, Dorothy Malone and Carol Lynley give first rate performances. As Dana Stribling, Rock Hudson is an unusual character in his politeness and decency. He plays his role with a seeming ease and almost aloofness that seems to fit nicely in the plot. As Bren O'Malley, Kirk Douglas is also unusual as the bad guy. He doesn't fit the frequent mold of crude, dumb, or barbaric cowboy. He does a great job in the diverse emotions he portrays from one scene to the next.

    I agree with some other reviewers who note Douglas' performance as exceptional. While Douglas wasn't in the small group of handsome leading men of the Hollywood studios of his time, he was nevertheless a handsome, popular and very talented actor. In his movie prime, he played a variety of roles, with as many characterizations. Only later would he slip into a general characterization. He won one Golden Globe for acting ("Lust for Life," 1957), and received two more GG nominations and three Academy Award nominations. He's among a considerable list of outstanding actors who have never won an Oscar.

    "The Last Sunset" is an interesting and very good Western that I think most movie fans would enjoy a great deal.
  • comment
    • Author: Elildelm
    The Last Sunset (1961)

    Wow, what a cast for a Robert Aldrich movie--Joseph Cotten, Rock Hudson, and Kirk Douglas. And the themes in this big Western are big ones, from Civil War loyalty years after the fact to love and cattle ranching. There are shootouts and rivalries, there is a good guy and a bad guy and a confusing between the two, and there is the endless feeling of having to move on, on and on, like the cattle themselves.

    This is pretty late for a Western, which is to say it's late for an original Western. And so the themes here are either well worn or worn out. What keeps it going is some good acting, some pretty scenery (like the night stuff, especially), and maybe a elegiac sense, nothing poetic but relaxed and appreciative.

    But there is filler, some sentimental stuff, some girl stuff where the guys ogle the girls, some Mexican stereotypes, and a gratuitous fistfight or two (Rock Hudson and Kirk Douglas really rolling around and duking it out). So as much as there are characters you sympathize with, and a lifestyle out on the open desert, it's sometimes slow going. But then, if it's not slow, it's filled with action, though sometimes mindless action.

    The title? Maybe a nod to the end of an era. The next big Westerns in the 1960s were the great Italian ones, like "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly," where the archetypes become references, something to exaggerate and make more important than the plot. In "The Last Sunset" there is no self-awareness, no acknowledgement that the themes here are clichés, right down to the last duel past the tracks. It might have been daring in 1938, but for 1961 it's just well made familiarity.
  • comment
    • Author: Viashal
    A great movie, and a Dalton Trumbo script to boot. Hey, how'd that happen? Famed Commie lover DT gets real screen credit? Maybe that's why nobody's seen this film. The sets, settings, cinematography and acting are first-rate. This may even be the first of Joseph Cotten's long run of disreputable former Confederate officer (or is that redundant?) roles. Starring Kirk Douglas, the best action adventure actor in the history of Hollywood, Rock Hudson, one of Hollywood's greatest actors (he made you believe he was a macho hetero man, didn't he?), Dorothy Malone, perhaps not the best built but undeniably one of its most super hot and sexiest actresses and Carol Lynley, one of Hollywoods best but terribly underrated actresses, this film is a treat. Plot twists; personality realignments; changing loyalties; unexpected (and quite adult) plot changes; and an ending you can't see coming until the end.

    Add this to some cinematography that is totally wasted on a TV screen and really demands a VistaVision screen, and you've got a real Western.

    The opening scene includes a vista shot that CAN NOT be properly appreciated on a TV screen, be warned.

    I don't know why this film is so sparely known - but as a Western movie enthusiast, I didn't see it until 2008 myself. It is QUITE a movie - see it!
  • comment
    • Author: Meri
    There was a time, particularly during the 1950s, when Americans (including me) were addicted to Westerns. We'd watch just about any Western that came along. Our love of Westerns faded as the 1960s rolled in, and today a Western is a relatively rare commodity. Now I will watch only the exceptional Western. I'm saying this is one of the great Westerns, but it is a cut above the average Western, and it is unique enough to earn some extra points there. It isn't as good as "Rio Bravo" or "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence", but it's pretty darned good.

    So what is different about it? Two things, really. First that you have a bounty hunter taking in a murderer...but along they way they cooperate to bring a herd of cattle from Mexico to Texas. But more importantly -- although it sure surprised me when it fell into my lap -- it has undertones about potential incest. Yes, you read that right. Some may have guessed it. I didn't. And when it appeared, I was just a little stunned.

    But I'll let you discover all the twists and turns here. Instead, I'll focus on the cast.

    Rock Hudson is the nominal lead here over Kirk Douglas...and yes, Douglas does play the sort of "bad guy". Both are very good here, though I'd give the edge here to Douglas. I've never been able to quite decide on how good an actress Dorothy Malone was; here she does rather nicely as the love interest, particularly of Hudson. In his prime, Joseph Cotten was a better actor than either Hudson or Douglas. His role here is rather small, but pivotal. I kinda hated seeing him relegated to such a small role. Carol Lynley...well, nothing very special here from her. Worth mentioning is a small character role for dependable Regis Toomey.

    Some have criticized the shadows in the last scene. I probably wouldn't have thought of it if it hadn't been mentioned. But yes, it was sloppy film-making to see noon-time shadows at sunset.

    Great, no. Very good, however. Worth watching...once.
  • comment
    • Author: Tygokasa
    Here's a perfect example of why the villain has to be the best actor you can find, Kirk Douglas filling the bill perfectly, and the 'hero' should be at least passable, Rock Hudson unfortunately failing here. The great punchline to the movie delivered by Dorothy Malone at the end, makes this otherwise 'standard' movie worth watching. I strongly believe that his movie was very important in some unknown way to his son Michael, who was just 17 when this was filmed. WHY?-well, look at the casting of Dorothy Malone in "Basic Instinct" and the ultimate denouement of Michael Douglas in "Falling Down", arguably Michael's best work ever, Michael's Oscar's (which Kirk should have received many of) notwithstanding.
  • comment
    • Author: NI_Rak
    This runs like a soap opera, however, it is more thoughtful than that. This is a female introspective, where it comes to who to trust, and when. Other than that, this is enjoyable and ranks above purely enjoyable fluff, in spite of the unlikely casting of Rock Hudson alongside Kirk Douglas. That's like casting Billy Crystal alongside Jack Palance...oh, but they've done that! However uneven the casting, this production runs well.

    1961; Rock Hudson, Kirk Douglas, Dorothy Malone. A Texas lawman follows a fleeing outlaw headed to see the women in his life. That's right...women.

    The premise is fun, the action is gritty, and the comedic elements lighten the sometimes too serious moments. Chocked full of beautiful unspoiled vistas, great performances, and hundreds of cows, this is quite visual, with a little intelligence woven throughout.

    It rates a 7.6/10 from...

    the Fiend :.
  • comment
    • Author: Modigas
    There are so many subplots in this large-scale Western that with a little finagling here and there it might have been set in Omsk in 1841.

    Let me see. Proud former Confederate veteran John Breckenridge (Cotten) is now a drunk who owns a vast herd of cattle in Mexico and is married to his staunchly supportive wife (Malone). A criminal on the lam (Douglas) shows up at the hacienda. He's safe from the law in Mexico and he once had a fling with Malone years ago and still is interested in her, though she cares nothing now for him. Malone has a teen aged daughter (Lynley) who develops an adolescent crush on the charming and poetic Douglas. Trouble arrives -- if it hasn't already -- in the form of a Texas sheriff (Hudson) with a warrant for Douglas. The warrant can't be served in Mexico.

    The more general problem facing this disparate group is getting the herd across Mexico and into the town of Crazy Horse, Texas, where it can be sold. It's a BIG herd too, don't kid yourself. We see every head of cattle. But where to find the hands to herd the cattle? Malone and Lynley will be along, of course, and Douglas and Hudson both sign on but that's not enough. Cotten hires a trio of local muchachos who always seem to be singing at the camp fire or crossing themselves solemnly during moments of suspense. Three other raggedy Americans show up and volunteer but we know at once they can't be trusted because one is Jack Elam, whose eyes look in different directions like a chameleon's, and another is the nasty-faced Neville Brand, who has never played anything but a treacherous scalawag. There's a third guy but he's an oily cholo with a toothy smile and his eyes are always glued to the women.

    The drive begins, but it's so full of confrontations and intrigues that it would take too long to explain. It's full of action but some of the incidents hardly seem related to one another and the motivations are often as murky as the river that hides the quicksand that engulfs Hudson's dumb horse. For instance, I don't know why Douglas's devotion to Malone suddenly switches to her daughter, Lynley, who is only fifteen. Okay, Lynley has always been short-haired and dressed in sloppy work clothes until she shows up in a dress. But we've been here before and anybody with half an eye could have seen immediately that Lynley, whatever she had on, if anything, was as succulent as an overripe peach.

    Here's another incident, and it's a real shocker. Lynley follows Douglas around, mooning over him like a faithful dog, until finally he's won over, presumably by her innocence as well as that warm red sensuality. He tries to convince her that, after all, she should find another man because he's old enough to be her father. She's unyielding in her attraction to Douglas's animal magnetism and the dimple in his chin. So they do it in the woods. Here's the shocker. You remember when he said he was old enough to be her father? Well, as Malone informs him, he really IS her father -- and he's been doing her! This is a serious business. You can throw out all his other crimes -- the thievery, the murders, the betrayals, the grand theft auto. This is incest we're talking about. It's a universal taboo. Of the roughly 4,000 cultures we know something about, none of them allowed for marriage or intercourse within the family, with a handful of exceptions (eg., the royal Inca, the royal Hawaiians -- the family not the hotel -- and the ancient Pharaohs). Cousins are usually okay, but not anybody in the nuclear family. Douglas's violation of the taboo is handled lightly. The word "incest" is never mentioned. When he learns that he has just balled his daughter, Douglas looks stricken, but only because it means he can't marry Lynley. It's treated as a strictly legal matter of marriage.

    For all the money that must have gone into this production, it all comes out as rather slapdash. The three raggedy Americans are only there to provide an action sequence in which they are killed. No cowboy ever wore anything like Douglas's color-coordinate outfit. A black hat, black form-fitted shirt, black gun belt, black leotards, and glossy black boots by Gucci Pucci -- all accessorized by a canary yellow neckerchief. He's the same color as a bumblebee and a bicycle I once owned. His hair is never less than exquisitely trimmed and gelled by the studio barber.

    I'm going to run out of space so let me just add that Rock Hudson's role as the grim avenger is dull, and that Cotten, as the Confederate officer Breckenridge, is not the same character as John Cabell Breckenridge, the Confederate general from Kentucky who fought in the Battle of New Market, of which you may see a facsimile in "the little boys' charge" in John Ford's "The Horse Soldiers."
  • comment
    • Author: Thordibandis
    This western had all the elements to be great: actors, director, scriptwriter. What went wrong? According to the director, Robert Aldrich who made great westerns like "Vera Cruz" and "Ulzana's Raid" the problem was with Dalton Trumbo who wrote the script. Trumbo always had to write under a fictitious name because he was blacklisted. Halfway through this film he got an offer from Otto Preminger to write a script under his real name for Exodus. He didn't think twice and Aldrich did not blame him for that, but the character of Kirk Douglas could not be developed like it should. The relationship between Douglas and Carol Linley suffers from too much sentimentality, overacting on the part of Douglas and the last duel that should have been dramatic, is just not convincing. This just shows how important is a scriptwriter.
  • comment
    • Author: Groll
    Notices for the editors: I don't know how to write in English language. This text was translated by electronic translator of the Portuguese for English.

    Western class A the one that deserved to be evaluated better by the specialized critic. Valued by the great cast and for Dalton Trumbo's written (1905-1976), I fell in love with this western since the first time that saw it (and that already makes a long time), and that passion didn't decrease even today. Actually, this is a rare film example that never get tired of reviewing. Be increased that the fact of me it to be fan of the gender, what only helps the fascination that I feel for this western produced by Kirk Douglas to increase.

    Still in the beginning, when nor all the characters were introduced, repair as it is pretty the music whistled by O'Malley when he approaches of the ranch of Breckenridge. And in that same mentioned space, perhaps until more important than the whistle, attempt as they are beautiful the chosen camera angles for managing Robert Aldrich—mine to see this it is its best film; as good as this, with equivalent qualities, I only see three others in the director's filmography: "Vera Cruz"/1954, "The Big Knife"/1955 and "The Emperor of the North Pole"/1973. Other camera angle that deserves to be mentioned is seen in the end: the camera is positioned in the ground and in first plan we see the giant wheel of a coach, and there in the fund we see, very small, Belle that crosses the street running. A pretty taking that pass unperceived for the common public.

    Other beautiful moments deserve to be outstanding: O'Malley and Stribling try, in the first time that meet, to leave the sun to contemplate in the face one of the another; O'Malley dialing with ingenuous Missy, at night, after dinner; O'Malley and Stribling rescuing drunk Breckenridge inside of a bar full of thieves; the thieves' action during the storm of sand; Missy, blinding with its yellow dress during the fiesta; the last encounter of Missy with O'Malley; and the final duel.

    I don't know if it was intentional or not, but it observes that the sheriff is always dressed with clear clothes, while the gunman is always of black. As if Stribling went a symbolic representation of the good, of the virtue, and O'Malley it embodied the evil, the dishonor.

    If it doesn't fail me the memory there is just a moment of humor: Stribling reveals for O'Malley that the agreement done with the Indians is that they would receive the belonging part of the floated O'Malley.

    Dorothy Malone, same already very mature (she was 35 years old) at that time, it is very pretty and good actress, overflowing sensuality. She came from a Oscar of better helping actress, I win in 1956 for "Written on the Wind". Carol Lynley, that never got to prove to be good actress, is radiant in its youth and angelical air. Very convincing in drunk John Breckenridge's paper, I believe not to be exaggeration to affirm that this perhaps is veteran Joseph Cotten's best interpretation (1905-1994).

    Same liking the film a lot, there is a serious mistake that I cannot forgive the director for having been so negligent: in the final duel, when O'Malley and Stribling approach one of the other, there is the two actors' several takings, and all time their shade it moves of size. In an it is longer, in the other, well below the feet (it was probably rotated at noon); when actually they should have very long shades for being a duel to the sunset. I believe even in the hypothesis that so much managing Aldrich, as producing Douglas has noticed the mistake, but for economy (of time or money) they decided to leave even so.

    An extraordinary western that is worthwhile to know. My vote (1 to 5): 5
  • comment
    • Author: Billy Granson
    I thought the movie was done relatively well, with a strong cast of characters. The plot was interesting as well. Big Rock Hudson trying to bring tough guy Kirk Douglas to justice. Beautiful and talented Dorothy Malone and daughter Carol Lynley falling in love with Rock and Kirk. Malone is married though and when her husband is killed, the tension mounts even further between Rock and Kirk. A little too much like a soap opera though. You know from the beginning of the movie that Rock and Kirk are going to have one hell of a physical conflict at some point. It was inevitable. You could cut the tension with a knife. And a good fight scene did develop in the middle of the movie. I was very curious as to who the winner would be. Two superstars duking it out. I couldn't see either guy winning decisively. Both had such macho images. Right before the fight, the guys were standing side by side. Rock was massive. So much taller and bigger than Kirk, yet Kirk looked like one tough guy. Realistically, it looked like Rock could break Kirk in half. Dorothy Malone broke up the fight in the middle, so it wasn't as if either guy was totally humiliated. It looked like a real fight, even though it was a movie. Or maybe Rock and Kirk really were going at it. You could actually see Rock using his tremendous height and superior size to his advantage, keeping Kirk in check. I'd have to say Rock had the upper hand and pretty much manhandled Kirk throughout most of the fight, although it wasn't totally one sided. The rest of the movie sort of dragged on and had a somewhat predictable ending.
  • comment
    • Author: ᵀᴴᴱ ᴼᴿᴵᴳᴵᴻᴬᴸ
    You might know by now that I'm not the biggest western fan. I picked up The Last Sunset for the cast, expecting to groan at the end and complain about my wasted time. What I mistakenly judged to be a boring western turned out to be a very touching, well-acted drama! It just happened to take place in the land of cowboys and horses.

    Kirk Douglas comes back into the life of old-flame Dorothy Malone, but it's been nearly twenty years since they've seen each other and she's moved on. She's married to Joseph Cotton and has a daughter, Carol Lynley, but the sparks still fly between her and her old beau. Rock Hudson shows up and lines up for Dorothy's attention-and that's just the beginning!

    So often in love triangles, there are clear good and bad guys, and the characters are one-dimensional, so the audience can mentally check out and blindly root for the man in the white hat. Dalton Trumbo's script, based off of Howard Rigsby's novel, features wonderfully three-dimensional characters, each with strengths and weaknesses so the audience understands why Dorothy Malone can't make up her mind. It's a truly riveting story, sure to capture even more of your emotions when Carol Lynley enters the romantic arena. She and Kirk Douglas share a very different romance from Dorothy and Kirk; it's sweet, pure, and truly lovely, but is it sustainable? He's seen so much more of the world, and their scenes together are very moving. While everyone in the film gives great performances, Carol and Kirk steal the show. She's so incredibly sweet, and his unspoken emotions radiate off the screen. You might not find yourself reaching for your Kleenexes, but I certainly did! I won't spoil anything, but the last few scenes have stayed with me long after I watched them. I wish I could elaborate on how wonderful Kirk Douglas's performance is, but that would involve major spoilers. Just rent it; you'll be in for a real treat.

    If you like your romances heavy with drama, or you like the idea of having to choose between Kirk Douglas and Rock Hudson, or if you've ever seen beyond forever in someone's eyes, rent The Last Sunset! And if you invite me over for a movie night, I'll bring the tissues.
  • comment
    • Author: Xtintisha
    A tired man dressed black finds your old lover to redeem for left her in the past,this man is Bren o'Malley played by Kirk Douglas and the woman is Belle played by Dorothy Malone who already married and has a young girl named Missy and now lives in somewhere in Mexico with a drunk husband,now O'Malley is chased by Dana Stribling who seeks for revenge and he planned to bring back to be tried in Texas....a long journey back showing to O'Malley that Belle is another person and no longer loves him,so has something between Missy and him which he cann't explain,maybe for she looks like a young girl in yellow dress which he left behind...all this under the Santelmo's fire....Forggoten classic from Robert Aldrich!!!


    First watch: 2007 / How many: 2 / Source: Cable TV-DVD / Rating: 8
  • comment
    • Author: Dream
    Kirk Douglas travels to Mexico on horseback to locate the woman he loved years ago. But a lawman (Rock Hudson) is on his trail, vowing to bring him back to Texas for hanging. Dorothy Malone plays the woman who is central to the story. Her husband, Joseph Cotton, plans to drive his cattle to Texas for sale, but he needs some cowhands. As a result, Douglas and Hudson become unlikely trailmates.

    Along the perilous journey, there are revelations, demonstrations of bravery, and conflict resolution. The plot is clever and it contains some surprises. "The Last Sunset" is directed by Robert Aldrich--a talented director, for sure. But the excellent script is the product of Dalton Trumbo, adapting from a novel.

    Though it contains the trappings of many western, this film goes beyond the usual caricatures. It is a rich story about complex characters.
  • Complete credited cast:
    Rock Hudson Rock Hudson - Dana Stribling
    Kirk Douglas Kirk Douglas - Brendan 'Bren' O'Malley
    Dorothy Malone Dorothy Malone - Belle Breckenridge
    Joseph Cotten Joseph Cotten - John Breckenridge
    Carol Lynley Carol Lynley - Melissa 'Missy' Breckenridge
    Neville Brand Neville Brand - Frank Hobbs
    Regis Toomey Regis Toomey - Milton Wing
    James Westmoreland James Westmoreland - Julesburg Kid (as Rad Fulton)
    Adam Williams Adam Williams - Calverton
    Jack Elam Jack Elam - Ed Hobbs
    John Shay John Shay - Bowman
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