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I Died a Thousand Times

A soggy remake of a classic, I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES was an attempt to do HIGH SIERRA with Palance in the Bogart role. The story remains the same (as it should; W.R. Burnett wrote the original with John Huston and this time penned the screenplay solo). Chaney is a dying criminal who wants to go out in a blaze of glory by heisting the Frontier Hotel in Palm Springs. He arranges for Palance to get sprung from prison to aid him in the robbery. Palance gets to the aerie in the mountains to be in on the planning with the other members of the gang, Marvin, Holliman, and Lopez. Winters is an ex-taxi-dancer who is attached to the mob. She likes Palance, but he finds himself entranced by Nelson, a crippled girl from a poor family. Eventually, he helps Nelson get the operation she needs to allow her to function in the world once more. The robbery occurs and, since there is no honor among thieves (at least not in remakes), the criminals have a falling out. The final chase sequence, which was so exciting in the original, is an attempt to re-create the HIGH SIERRA feeling but, even though they use just about the same cuts and set-ups, it fails to sustain any suspense. Palance is tracked down and slain, and what might have been a tragedy becomes little more than the average shoot 'em up in the hands of director Heisler. Palance, formerly Walter Jack Palance (in the credits of SHANE), does his best, but he is acting in the shadow of Bogart, an impossible task. One of the highlights of HIGH SIERRA was Bogart's relationship with his dog. In this film, the attempt to use the animal as a harbinger of death becomes too cutesy for words. The only humor in the film comes from Gonzalez, who got his start as a contestant on the Groucho Marx TV show "You Bet Your Life."