Thursday, November 26, 2020

A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die! [archived newspaper article]

 Denton Record Chronicle

Denton Texas

May 8, 1968

     Have you ever formed a picture of someone in your mind – someone you never had seen, in the flesh – and then been astonished at how different they looked when you finally saw him? (Or her?).

     For example while watching Hugh Downs on the “Today” TV show. I mentally assumed that he was a tall man, or, let us say, a man at least 5 feet 11 inches tall, probably weighing 175 pounds.

     I was surprised to see him – the real, living, breathing Hugh Downs – at a Dallas TV station opening: surprised, because Hugh Downs is a relatively small man, Big mind, but small of frame.

     We’ve all read of course, about male actors wearing elevator shoes, or standing on ladders while they kiss the leading lady in a closeup.

     Still and all, it’s sometimes a slight shock to see the actor in his real-life surroundings.

     This is what happened the other day, after a private screening of “A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die,” which is starting its local run today, at the Campus Theatre.

     The screening was held at the Interstate Circuit’s private theater in Dallas, Afterwards there was a luncheon-and-interview session with the star of Alex Cord, in the Statler-Hilton Hotel.

     The movie, as you may have read, is a Western, filmed in Italy and employing Italians, except for the stars: Cord, Robert Ryan and Arthur Kennedy.

     This is a strong Western: real stern stuff. Bullets fly and bodies fall in great numbers. It would take a computer to keep the box score.     

     Alex Cord is a handsome fellow, with sharp, finely chiseled features. In the process of the movie, he goes from bad to good.

     On the screen, Alex Cord looked like a bog man. Sometimes, he seemed to fill the screen, Subconsciously, I figured he’d be about 6-2and would tip the scales at around 190-200.

     Surprise, surprise. When he walked into the luncheon room at the Statler, he looked about 5-10, maybe 5-11, and carrying about 150 pounds. More like a barely-overgrown jockey than the star of a shoot-em-up.

     When you get right down to it, I suppose it make no difference how Alex Cord looks off-camera. What counts is how he projects when his image is on the screen (and in like respect, I’d say very well, thank you).

     Nevertheless, the movie Alex Cord and the Alex Cord-at-lunch are markedly different. It may not be of moment, but it’s interesting.

     And Alex Cord is a most interesting young man. What is most refreshing about him is his candor. He doesn’t mind speaking his opinion and he doesn’t seem to be particularly cautious about whose toes he mashes.

     Cord was in a remake of the movie “Stagecoach,” which was a classic Western of years ago. He said he’d just as soon never hear the “Stagecoach” again. He said it was a poor movie.

     “You can’t improve on a classic.” he said, “so why try?” (He’s got a good point there.)

     While Cord looks rather slight, and with his long hair you might think he was a hothouse plant, he is a rugged fellow. He used to ride Brahman bulls and bucking horses (bareback) in rodeos, and he goes to Africa almost every year on big-game hunts.

     He enjoyed making the move “A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die,” but he thinks the ending is fouled up.

     In the picture Cord is an outlaw who receives amnesty from the state of New Mexico. He gets the amnesty paper, and rides off, a free man, minus hi guns. That’s the ending I saw and I presume the ending that is still in the movie.

     Another ending was made, in which Cord rides off, but is ambushed by two bounty hunters. They kill him, but when they search his body for money, they find the amnesty paper, which shows he’s a free man and there is no longer any reward money on his head.

    That’s the ending Cord likes. Well why didn’t the producers use the ending.

    “Because they’re stupid.” Cord said.

    “Well now, I don’t know that I’d go that far, but I think Cord’s ending would be better. More dramatic, a good twist, and a stronger thrust at an important theme: Crime doesn’t pay.

    But if I’m so smart, why ain’t I in Hollywood.   


]Submitted by Michael Ferguson, Gary Williams and Michael Hauss]  

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