Last Sunset, The (1961)

Last Sunset, The (1961)

“She loves me in a way she’ll never love any other man.”

In the Mexican desert, a man (Kirk Douglas) is pursued by a law enforcement agent (Rock Hudson) eager to arrest him for killing his sister’s husband. Meanwhile, Douglas visits an old flame (Dorothy Malone) living with her alcoholic husband (Joseph Cotten) and teenage daughter (Carol Lynley), and soon finds himself accompanying them on a cattle drive, joined by Hudson, who doesn’t want to let Douglas out of his sight.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Carol Lynley Films
  • Dorothy Malone Films
  • Joseph Cotten Films
  • Kirk Douglas Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Mistaken or Hidden Identities
  • Neville Brand Films
  • Robert Aldrich Films
  • Rock Hudson Films
  • Westerns

Kirk Douglas produced and Robert Aldrich directed this seemingly standard genre western which takes a decidedly weird twist at a certain point, thus raising all kinds of challenging questions that aren’t even close to being resolved by the end. Along the way, we’re treated to a brief glimpse of Cotten as an uninhibited drunk whose grizzled performance seems inspired by Orson Welles in his later roles — or maybe I’m just reading that into it.

Meanwhile, sexy Malone emanates her usual world weariness, while Douglas and Hudson project Movie Stardom in their leading roles as cagy adversaries eager to outsmart one another.

In a critical supporting role, Lynley first comes across as tomboyish and naive:

… before suddenly emerging as more womanly and knowing what she wants from life and love. Sadly, Jack Elam and Neville Brand are wasted in minor roles as baddies who come and go too quickly.

Ernest Laszlo’s cinematography is noteworthy as always, but it’s unfortunately in service of an overall less-than-satisfying story.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Ernest Laszlo’s cinematography

Must See?
No, unless you’re curious.


One thought on “Last Sunset, The (1961)

  1. First viewing (2/14/22). Not must-see.

    Aldrich’s western has the reputation of being OTT – which it isn’t. In a number of ways, it’s standard stuff – outside of the eventual surprise revealed about Douglas. Aldrich’s direction is noteworthy and the film looks good but it’s not all that memorable.

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