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I wish Raymond Burr was remembered more for roles like this one and "The Blue Gardenia"
A bit too shrill at times
burr is great
If you mention Raymond Burr to the average American, they'd probably say something like "He was Perry Mason" or "He was Ironside". While these TV roles made him famous, I think his best work was in the 1950s playing screen heavies. Very few actors could match the menace of Burr in films like "The Blue Gardenia" or here in "Ride the High Iron". And, it's worth watching "Ride the High Iron" just for his scenes...he was just terrific.
When the film begins, Sgt. Hugo Danielchik (Don Taylor) is on a train chatting with some rich folks. Ziggy Moline (Burr) is impressed that a guy from common stock like Danielchik could be so charming and fit in so well with the upper class. So, Ziggy has a proposition...that Danielchik should remake himself into a more waspy guy and then come work for him...though doing exactly what isn't clear. Danielchik isn't interested...he plans on going to grad school.
When Danielchik tells his really ignorant parents about his plans, they chide him to not try to rise above his station and he should do what his father did...spend his miserable life doing a menial job for the railroad. This helps Danielchik to see the light....he'll go work for Ziggy!
So what does Ziggy want him to do? He has Danielchik fake a few things about himself (such as changing his name and rank from Sergeant to Captain) and then romance a rich young lady...the same one Danielchik met on the train. Why does Ziggy want this? What's in store for Danielchik? See the film.
This is a good film but is also tough to watch. You don't really like anyone in the movie. Danielchik's parents are obnoxious in their desire to keep their son from achieving more out of life. Danielchik is a phony. And, Ziggy is very malevolent and is out to teach society a lesson! But it also is highly original and unpredictable....something I really prize in a movie.
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