Ray Milland directs and stars in Republic’s A Man Alone. Most of the film is set inside the confines of a small town and in particular the house where Nadine (Mary Murphy) and her father Gil Corrigan (Ward Bond) live. and many of the scenes are at night. So I think Black and White would have added to the tension, rather than color.
It seems perfectly natural that for the first half hour of the film Milland’s character, Wes Steele doesn’t speak. There is no one for him to converse with. In noir style, events overtake Steele – he is in the desert and has to shoot his horse; he finds a stagecoach with all the passengers dead; and when he takes one of the coach horses and rides into a nearby town, he is mistaken for one of the coach robbers.
It becomes clear who the real killers are – Raymond Burr and Lee Van Cleef ,but they belong to the town. Steele is the suspicious stranger. He takes refuge in the Corrigan house which no one other than the doctor is visiting as the Ward Bond character has yellow fever. Milland’s first words of dialogue are to Mary Murphy, “I’m obliged to you for a jar of peaches.” (He found them in the cellar where he has been hiding.)
As the townsfolk continue to search for him,he comments to Nadine, “This is a right unfriendly town you live in.” She tells him to go and he replies, “It’s not politeness that’s keeping me.”
She becomes more sympathetic as he helps her with her sick father, but the romance between Milland and Murphy was hard to take – Milland looked all of his 50 years and Mary Murphy,at 24, really was young enough to be his daughter.Maybe directing himself over stretched Milland.I’d have preferred a younger actor, say Rory Calhoun, in the lead. It could be Milland had to star in the film in order to get it made with him at the helm.
(It’s funny, I can accept John Wayne and Angie Dickinson in Rio Bravo, or Clark Gable and Doris Day (25 year age difference) in Teacher’s Pet. But I was aware of the age difference here.)
I think Milland did a good job of directing though I wonder why he chose a western – this suspenseful story is ideal noir material.