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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.
Stuart Whitmore

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CAST: Tom Selleck, Virginia Madsen, Mark Harmon, Wilford Brimley, Brad Johnson

DIRECTOR: Simon Wincer

RUNNING TIME: 92 minutes


VIDEO RELEASE: October 31, 2001

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