Rafe Covington (Tom Selleck) makes a promise to a dying friend that to go to Wyoming and
look after his ranch—and his wife Ann Rodney (Virginia Madsen). When he gets there he
finds Ann disbelieving. She was told her husband, who had been Shanghaied to work on a
ship with Covington, had been killed by a Sioux raiding party a year earlier. That story
has been put about by local Mr. Big Bruce Barkow (Mark Harmon), who wants to marry Ann,
and get his hands on her property. With the help of Rodney’s former ranch hand Joe
Gill (Wilford Brimley) and two old shipmates, Covington vows to keep his promise.
"A made-for-TV Western based on a novel by the legendary Louis L’Amour,
Crossfire Trail was a big hit when it premiered in the US early this year, attracting 38
million viewers. It’s easy to see why. This is superior primetime fare, with high
production values and plenty of star appeal in the form of bushy-browed Selleck and sleazy
Harmon. There’s no great pretence to art here, no Sergio Leone-like reinvention of
the Western, just a few off-the-shelf plot threads woven into a sturdy yarn.
Selleck’s Rafe Covington is 100% pure hero, never firing until fired upon, and always
courteous to the ladies. Harmon’s Bruce Barkow is equally unequivocal as the bad
guy—the kind who hires other men to do his dirty work but beats up a woman himself.
Virginia Madsen gets to go beyond being a regular schoolmarm as the independent woman
who’s not afraid to take up arms herself, and although the ending of the twin battles
for her real estate and her heart are never in doubt, she gets to play an active part in
the denouement. There’s solid support from the likes of Wilford Brimley (a Western
veteran in between his stints in the Cocoon series) and Brad Johnson as a gunslinger, as
well as admirable attention to detail from director Simon Wincer. Not the most inspired
movie ever made, but perfectly watchable if you’re a fan of the leading men.
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CROSSFIRE TRAIL (MA)
CAST: Tom Selleck, Virginia Madsen, Mark Harmon, Wilford Brimley, Brad Johnson
DIRECTOR: Simon Wincer
RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros Video
VIDEO RELEASE: October 31, 2001