The Badlanders

The Badlanders (1958) is a western caper film directed by Delmer Daves and starring Alan Ladd and Ernest Borgnine.[2][3] Based on the 1949 novel The Asphalt Jungle by W. R. Burnett, the story was given an 1898 setting by screenwriter Richard Collins. It is the second film adaptation of the novel following 1950's The Asphalt Jungle.

The Badlanders
Poster of the movie The Badlanders.jpg
Directed byDelmer Daves
Produced byAaron Rosenberg
Written byRichard Collins
Based onThe Asphalt Jungle by W. R. Burnett
StarringAlan Ladd
Ernest Borgnine
CinematographyJohn Seitz
Edited byWilliam H. Webb
James Baiotto
Arcola Productions
Distributed byMGM
Release date
  • September 3, 1958 (1958-09-03)
Running time
83-85 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,105,000[1]


In 1898, two men are released from the Arizona Territorial Prison. One, mining engineer and geologist Peter Van Hoek (Ladd), the "Dutchman", tells the warden he was framed for the robbery of a gold shipment from the Lisbon Mine. The other, John McBain (Borgnine), killed Bascomb, the man who cheated him out of his land.

The two men head separately to the town of Prescott, where neither is welcome. The marshal, whom Van Hoek accuses of framing him, orders him to leave town on the next stagecoach, at sundown the next day. At the hotel, the Dutchman meets guest Ada Winton (Claire Kelly), the lonely mistress of Cyril Lounsberry (Kent Smith).

McBain rescues a Mexican woman, Anita (Katy Jurado), when men accost her on the street. Though Leslie (Adam Williams), the deputy, saves McBain's life in the ensuing fight, he gives McBain the same deadline to leave, even though McBain's folks settled the township. A grateful Anita invites McBain to stay in her place, and the two are attracted to each other.

The Dutchman gets Sample (Robert Emhardt) to introduce him to Lounsberry. Lounsberry had married Bascomb's homely sister for her money. Van Hoek offers to sell him gold ore from an extremely rich deposit that only he knows about. It is worth at least $200,000, but Van Hoek will be satisfied with half that amount in cash. He lies when Lounsberry jokingly asks if it is from his wife's Lisbon Mine. The prospect of being a rich man in his own right and leaving for Europe with Ada makes Lounsberry agree.

Van Hoek recruits a reluctant McBain and demolition expert Vincente (Nehemiah Persoff) for his scheme. They time it so the explosion needed to extract the ore goes off as the same time as the regular blasting. They get the ore out, but when Van Hoek and McBain take it to Lounsberry, he tries to double cross them. Leslie is killed and McBain wounded in the ensuing gunfight. Van Hoek takes McBain to Anita's place and digs out the bullet, then leaves in a wagon with the gold. However, Lounsberry, Sample and their men soon corner him in town during a fiesta. McBain goes to the Dutchman's aid. Then Anita has her many Mexican friends surround and disarm the villains. Van Hoek entrusts McBain and Anita with the gold, telling them he will meet them later in Durango to split it up equally. Then, keeping his word, he leaves on the stagecoach with fellow passenger Ada.



The movie was produced by Aaron Rosenberg, who had a deal to make films for MGM. Originally it was announced that the star would be William Holden.[4] Then James Cagney and Paul Newman were going to play the leads.[5] Eventually Alan Ladd signed to star; it was his first movie at MGM.[6][7] Ernest Borgnine was his co-star.[8]

Shooting took place at the MGM studio with three weeks location work in Kingman, Arizona.[9][10] The movie was also shot at Old Tucson Studios.[11]

Ernest Borgnine and Katy Jurado fell in love during the making of the film and were married.[12]


According to MGM records the film earned $970,000 in the US and Canada and $1,135,000 elsewhere resulting in a loss of $373,000.[1]


  1. ^ a b c 'The Eddie Mannix Ledger’, Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study, Los Angeles
  2. ^ Variety film review; July 16, 1958, page 6.
  3. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; July 19, 1958, page 114.
  4. ^ Hopper, Hedda (Aug 8, 1957). "Looking at Hollywood: ViVian Blaine Right in Deciding to Go Dramnatic". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. c2.
  5. ^ Hopper, Hedda (Nov 1, 1957). "Looking at Hollywood: Cagney and Paul Newman to Team in Metro Film". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. d3.
  6. ^ Hopper, Hedda (Dec 14, 1957). "Alan Ladd Will Star in 'The Badlanders'". Los Angeles Times. p. B2.
  7. ^ "PRESLEY IS SIGNED FOR THIRD MOVIE: Singer Will Star in Feature for M-G-M--Peggy Ashcroft Cast in 'Nun's Story' British Star Signed". New York Times. Dec 19, 1957. p. 39.
  8. ^ "BORGNINE IS CAST IN WESTERN FILM: Actor to Co-Star With Ladd in 'Badlanders'--Rowland Eyes Italian-Movie Deal Returning to Warners". New York Times. Dec 25, 1957. p. 37.
  9. ^ "DIRECTOR TURNS TO MOVIE ACTING: David Butler, 31 Years at Camera, in 'Last Hurrah' -Metro Making 6 Pictures". New York Times. Feb 14, 1958. p. 17.
  10. ^ JOHN H. ROTHWELL TUCSON, ARIZ.. (Mar 9, 1958). "' TUCSON': MOVIE MECCA: Noted Arizona Screen 'Set' Attracts 'Badlanders' Troupe and Tourists". New York Times. p. X7.
  11. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (Mar 10, 1958). "'Exodus' Tells Israel Story: Leon Uris Epic to Star Ava; Unique Town Visited by Ladd". Los Angeles Times. p. C11.
  12. ^

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