The Badlanders

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The Badlanders
Poster of the movie The Badlanders.jpg
Directed by Delmer Daves
Produced by Aaron Rosenberg
Written by Richard Collins
Based on The Asphalt Jungle by W.R. Burnett
Starring Alan Ladd
Ernest Borgnine
Arcola Productions
Distributed by MGM
Release dates
  • September 3, 1958 (1958-09-03)
Running time
83-85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,436,000[1]
Box office $2,105,000[1]

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.


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 injured 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 Jurando 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. ^ Looking at Hollywood: ViVian Blaine Right in Deciding to Go Dramnatic Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 08 Aug 1957: c2.
  5. ^ Looking at Hollywood: Cagney and Paul Newman to Team in Metro Film Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 01 Nov 1957: d3.
  6. ^ Alan Ladd Will Star in 'The Badlanders' Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 14 Dec 1957: 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 Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 19 Dec 1957: 39.
  8. ^ BORGNINE IS CAST IN WESTERN FILM: Actor to Co-Star With Ladd in 'Badlanders'--Rowland Eyes Italian-Movie Deal Returning to Warners By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 25 Dec 1957: 37.
  9. ^ DIRECTOR TURNS TO MOVIE ACTING: David Butler, 31 Years at Camera, in 'Last Hurrah' -Metro Making 6 Pictures By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 14 Feb 1958: 17
  10. ^ ' TUCSON': MOVIE MECCA: Noted Arizona Screen 'Set' Attracts 'Badlanders' Troupe and Tourists By JOHN H. ROTHWELLTUCSON, ARIZ.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 Mar 1958: X7
  11. ^ 'Exodus' Tells Israel Story: Leon Uris Epic to Star Ava; Unique Town Visited by Ladd Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 10 Mar 1958: C11.
  12. ^

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