I Died a Thousand Times

I Died a Thousand Times is a 1955 American CinemaScope Warnercolor film noir crime film directed by Stuart Heisler. The drama features Jack Palance as paroled bank robber Roy Earle, with Shelley Winters, Lee Marvin, Earl Holliman, Perry Lopez, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, and Lon Chaney, Jr.[1]

I Died a Thousand Times
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStuart Heisler
Produced byWillis Goldbeck
Written byW.R. Burnett
StarringJack Palance
Shelley Winters
Music byDavid Buttolph
CinematographyTed D. McCord
Edited byClarence Kolster
Warner Bros.
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • November 9, 1955 (1955-11-09) (United States)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States

I Died a Thousand Times is a scene-by-scene remake of High Sierra (1941), which was based upon a novel by W.R. Burnett and starred Humphrey Bogart as Earle. The same story had also been transformed into a Western, Colorado Territory (1949), with Joel McCrea.

The film marks the second motion picture appearance of Dennis Hopper's six-decade career, and Nick Adams makes an uncredited appearance as a bellhop.


Roy "Mad Dog" Earle (Jack Palance), an aging bank robber, intends to pull off one last heist before retiring.

Sprung from prison by crime boss, Big Mac (Lon Chaney Jr.), Earle agrees to plan the robbery of a resort hotel. His partners include the hotheaded Babe (Lee Marvin), easy-going Red (Earl Holliman), and an "inside man" at the hotel, Louis Mendoza (Perry Lopez). Along for the ride is Marie (Shelley Winters), a dance-hall girl whom Babe recently met.

Marie falls in love with Earle, but he is more interested in Velma (Lori Nelson), the club-footed daughter of a farmer (Ralph Moody) whom Earle had earlier befriended.

Intending to use his share of the loot to pay for Velma's needed operation, Earle goes through with the robbery, only to be thwarted by the ineptitude of his gang, the treachery of the late Big Mac's successors, and the fickle Velma.

With the still faithful Marie by his side, Earle makes a desperate escape into the Sierra mountains, where a police sniper shoots him down.



The stereotype comedy-relief character played by black actor Willie Best in the original film has been replaced by a Mexican stereotype played by Gonzales-Gonzales.


Critical response

Bosley Crowther, writing for The New York Times, did not like the remake, specifically the screenplay and its inadvertent message, and wrote, "Somehow it isn't quite as touching as it was fourteen years ago. Not by a lot-—and the trouble is not wholly Mr. Palance...But the reason this film is not so touching is because it is antique and absurd—-the kind of glorification of the gunman that was obsolescent when High Sierra was made. It is an insult to social institutions and to public intelligence to pull this old mythological hero out of the archives and set him on a mountain top again. The pretense is so blunt and sentimental that it makes the whole thing a total cliché. And the acting does not greatly improve it...It is obvious that High Sierra has come to pretty low ground."[2]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote in 2004, "It's a remake that was hardly needed, but at least it keeps things the same as the novel and gives the viewer a chance to observe Jack Palance in the role Bogie made classic and Shelley Winters in Ida Lupino's role. Though both actors acquit themselves well, there's still no comparison with the original legendary actors. I have a thing about remakes of classics, believing there's no point to make them...I had no problems with the pic, in fact it works rather well. If it weren't an unnecessary remake I would think more highly of it."[3]

See also


  1. I Died a Thousand Times at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. Crowther, Bosley. The New York Times, "Total Cliche; I Died a Thousand Times' at Globe," film review, November 10, 1955. Accessed: January 29, 2008.
  3. Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, December 23, 2004. Accessed: December 1, 2009.
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