MovieChat Forums > Edge of Eternity (1959) Discussion > Forgotten film deserves rediscovery

Forgotten film deserves rediscovery


I first saw EDGE OF ETERNITY several years ago on the Encore Western channel. As the reviewer on this site remarked, it's not really a western in the conventional sense; it takes place in Arizona but in 1959. It's actually a very good little thriller, with an excellent and understated Cornel Wilde as a deputy probing a series of murders in and around an old mining town near Kingman in northwestern AZ, near the Grand Canyon.

The film was directed by the great Don Siegel and he keeps the suspense high and the pace strong. There are several twists and surprises along the way -- suffice to say (I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen the film) a lot of what you think is about to happen doesn't, and much of this film will indeed put you on edge. The cast is first-rate and the characters different from what you'd expect. Plus, the movie benefits greatly from its on-location shooting: the Canyon especially of course, but it's even interesting to see Kingman and the surrounding area as it was nearly half a century ago. Excellent color cinematography, but as I've only seen this in a TV pan-and-scan print, never in its full widescreen format (outside of the opening and closing credits), I still feel as if I've missed half the picture -- which, strictly speaking, I guess I have.

Even so, if this is ever rebroadcast (I haven't seen it listed for a couple of years now) try and catch it. I think you'll find it really is an undiscovered minor gem. It's almost too much to hope that Sony/Columbia will one day put it out on DVD in a quality, letterboxed transfer -- they haven't been too good at releasing new stuff lately -- but, if they ever resume issuing their series of westerns, then maybe, under the somewhat inaccurate guise of a western, we might finally get it (???). Or better yet, as a straight suspense film.

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I also absolutely love this film. Unfortunately I missed it a few weeks ago when they actually showed it on TV.

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I didn't know it was recently on TV. (I assume cable?) When and on what channel was it, do you recall? We'll have to keep a lookout.

I haven't been to this site since posting the OP almost four years ago. I was a little surprised I was the first one here. Anyway, since then Sony has indeed begun issuing many classic films from its library again -- some on standard DVD, but increasingly more on their Columbia Classics label, their MOD series like Warner Archives.

A few months ago I used their website to suggest Edge of Eternity and a few other titles for this series, but shortly after they redid the site and I don't even know if they still have such a forum on it. Instead, they now sell their Columbia Classics through Warner Archives! (They're also available from other sites; prices are pretty much set at $19.95, though some sites may knock a dollar off that figure.) The Warner site (go to WBshop.com and click on Warner Archives) does list what's available from Columbia and ships them fast. But last I checked, no EOE. Considering some of the obscure and bizarre titles they have made available on that label, there are a number of much better films like this still awaiting release. But the quality of the discs is very good. So, maybe, someday....

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Im in Australia...sorry cant remember the channel

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Oh -- I assumed you were in the US (like me). Makes the channel issue rather moot! But now I remember seeing your IMDb name hereabouts, and do recall reading someplace that you were in Australia.

But if Edge of Eternity ever becomes available over here I will post a thread. I believe you're Region 4 DVD (?), but Australian friends have claimed they can play Region 1 discs on DVD players Down Under. Don't know if that's accurate.

I hope when you did see the film it was widescreen (2.35:1). They've never broadcast it other than pan and scan here that I know of.

Of course, leading lady Victoria Shaw was a native of Australia. Too bad her Hollywood career never really took off, and she died rather young of cancer.

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I'm going to post a separate thread here, but EDGE OF ETERNITY is reportedly coming to Sony MOD disc in October of 2011.

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I DVR'd from Encore Suspense (CH #344), and it's in widescreen.

-Nam

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Hello MAF -- Guess what? As predicted (sort of) just last week, I've learned from a friend today that Edge of Eternity is coming out on Region 1 DVD-R. Its release date appears to be October 4, 2011. You can see the thread he started with information on this board.

Basics are that this is an MOD, widescreen (original CinemaScope aspect ratio 2.35:1), full length, from Sony's Columbia Classics collection. Retail price, $19.99 US. But of course you'd need a Region 0 DVD player in Australia. DVD-Rs don't play on a computer.

But I thought I'd pass the news on, as promised.

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Recently saw this as it played on TV here in Australia. An interesting film, suspenseful, beautiful scenery and kept me interested until the end. A great unexpected twist in there that was very nicely hidden until revealed.

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You Aussies seemed to have had this movie shown on TV a lot more lately than we Yanks! Perhaps because leading lady Victoria Shaw was Australian?

But glad you liked it. Hope they ran it widescreen. The new DVD here is very good.

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Saw EDGE OF ETERNITY for the very first time, and thought it a very smart and intriguing murder mystery with a wonderful Grand Canyon setting. Cornel Wilde is in fine form as the deputy sheriff trying to solve the case and to also save his and his boss’ positions. It is a clever whodunit that had me playing guessing games throughout (and ultimately guessing wrong – see the spoilers).

Spoilers:

My initial guess was that it was county attorney who was the one up to no good. He certainly was quite anxious to replace the current sheriff (Edgar Buchanan) with his own man. And of course, he would have needed help digging those rich mineral deposits out of the Kendon mines. And so who would show up in this movie, but the late great Jack Elam, a heavy in so many other films. So naturally, knowing that history, I had assumed that Elam’s Bill Ward was in cahoots with the county attorney. I couldn't have been more wrong (with both the county attorney and Ward), and it was actually nice to see Elam playing a good guy for a change. The only person I did guess who was in on this was Bob Kendon, only after Kendon’s sister told Cornel Wilde that by trait, he was a geologist and liked to fly planes (and of course, had an extreme dislike of his father- stealing from his mine was probably not a bad way to extract some sort of revenge).

It had to take two viewings for me to fully absorb the motives. The surprise visit by R.W. Whitmore, is really only pieced together by Cornel Wilde’s assumption, that perhaps he found out someone was illegally stealing the from the mine, and that Whitmore wanted to investigate it for himself, but doing it anonymously (hence why had paid cash to buy the car, instead of renting it and no initials or name on his luggage). Of course, everything else is explained by Mickey Shaughnessy’s Scotty O’Brien, the mastermind of this criminal plot.

In some ways, greed had a part to play in this as well. Closing the mines during WWII was understandable because of the needed manpower. But once the war was over, Kendon should have reopened them, but just sat there waiting and waiting until the price of gold would eventually go up and match or surpass those of other industrialized countries. All of that gold sitting there and not being extracted, so naturally, one might take advantage of stealing some for himself.

And of course, the other great character in the movie was the Grand Canyon itself. I don’t recall seeing another movie, or T.V. show that took advantage of the Canyon’s great beauty and enormity. Usually, in other shows, we just get that one static shot of the Canyon. Or we hardly see it at all – think Clark Griswold in VACATION, but there I could understand his situation!

That climax in the bucket was something to behold. Bravo to the stunt people involved. Today, CGI would have helped out in the process, but I don’t think it would have looked as exciting. Practical effects can sometimes do the trick much better!

Thumbs way up on this movie. Thanks Hobnob for recommending it!

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Hey Big-G, that's some review! You came up with some very interesting potential suspects and for reasons I never thought of. You also seem to have delved into a lot of it more than I have and gotten even more out of the movie than me.

Of course, with IMDb's new method of blocking out spoilers, your post looks like my redacted FBI file! But maybe that's appropriate for a mystery.

Anyway, I'm glad to have recommended it to you and even happier you enjoyed it so much and found so much in it. Thanks for boosting it here!

And now for your third viewing...!

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Of course, with IMDb's new method of blocking out spoilers, your post looks like my redacted FBI file! But maybe that's appropriate for a mystery.


Ha! That is exactly what it looked liked! I couldn't help myself. A lot to cover, but did not want to spoil it for anyone.

It was just like THE BIG CIRCUS. I made assumptions on who the bad guy could have been based on an actor's previous roles. I sometimes think I watch too many movies for my own good! Anyway, I always love it more so when it is not how I predicted it. And of course, I love how Grand Canyon was greatly utilized. It became a very important character in the movie. I know there have been other films and T.V. shows that have shot in GC, but never like this. Who knows how much red tape Columbia Pictures had to go through with the Department of the Interior to have shot these scenes.

Anyway, thanks again Hobnob for introducing me to this movie!

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I remember reading a few years ago that the studio was one of the last entities to get permission to fly planes through the Grand Canyon and do other little things like push a car over a cliff into it and stuff. The guano mining company was a real corporation but it was only in business at the Canyon for about 18 months, so the timing of the movie in being filmed while "the bucket" was still in operation was unexpectedly good, and they don't permit mining or tram facilities there any more. Overall, therefore, this was basically the last film to be able to utilize the grandeur of the Grand Canyon for destructive purposes.

It did occur to me that instead of invoking blacked-out lines you could have just as easily begun your review with the word "spoilers" in capital red letters before hitting the text as fair warning to all newcomers. True, that would run the risk of inadvertently giving the casual reader a peek at some of the plot aspects, but on the other hand the post wouldn't have resembled the copy of GM's interoffice memo on ignition key problems that they turned over to the Justice Department. I think IMDb's former means of blocking spoilers, by simply having the word written over and over in red (approximately spoiler-spoiler-spoiler), looked a lot less obtrusive. The first time I saw the new version I thought I was being disciplined for some violation of the site's rules!

I've shown both Edge of Eternity and, earlier, The Big Circus to my weekly classic movie group. In the latter, I said nothing beforehand about the villain, but I heard the audience gasp when they found out his real identity and in my closing remarks asked, "So, you all thought Vincent Price was the bad guy, didn't you?!" For EOE I framed my remarks to disguise the killer's true identity, but did ask at the end how many saw the villain coming. None did, but for some reason it didn't hit them as hard as The Big Circus.

Funny you mentioned that film in connection with this one on this aspect, but we do seem to have many cinematic things in common.

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Thanks to Big G-2 for his post of September 29, 2014. I watched EOE on Britain's Film 4 channel yesterday (for the second time) and was very impressed. I did wonder about one or two points, including the presence of R E Whitmore, but he's suggested a convincing reason.

I thought that the murder that viewers saw later in the film, with the victim looking straight at the camera so we didn't see who was the murderer, was a bit contrived.

And Big G-2 is also correct about the performance of the stunt people - as good, if not better, than a comparable scene in a James Bond movie.

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I agree with everything you stated,especially the suspense and pace.
Don reminded me{just a bit}of Sam Peckinpah.Not the person...the dedication.

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Interesting comparison between Spiegel and Peckinpah. You may be on to something. Though I think Don's personality was a lot more stable than Sam's!

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I'm not sure why I recorded this to watch, but I did. The cliff hanger ending is still enough to make one's jaw drop. Which is saying quite something with all the stunts I've seen over the years.

What a great little film.

"I know it looked like I fell... but it was all part of my plan!"

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Glad to find another new fan of this movie. Thanks for posting, waswasere.

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I can't understand why Columbia threw this terrific movie away. I saw it when I was 13 at our local theater, buried under some 'A' bore I hated. I was intrigued by "Eternity" mainly because I'd developed a big crush on gorgeous Victoria Shaw when I saw her in "The Crimson Kimono" (another wonderful Columbia throwaway) previously. But "Edge of Eternity" was an absolute knockout--gorgeous color photography, superb use of CinemaScope, some unexpected genuine shudders in the suspenseful murder mystery plot, the ending, with Wilde, Ms. Shaw (why didn't this rare, witty beauty become a major star?)and the murderer (whose identity was a total shock) fighting for their lives in a tram hanging by a wire over the Grand Canyon, had the audience gasping. Besides Ms. Shaw, the handsome young newcomer Rian Garrick (as her brother) also seemed destined for major attention (yet his career quickly fizzled; anyone know why?). It was one of my favorite films of that era, and I finally had the chance to see it today on an old-movie channel (Get-TV) I recently discovered. It was panned-and-scanned and interrupted by commercials, but I didn't care. The movie, if anything, looks better than ever today (in 2015), possibly because of all the garbage currently contaminating the plexes. Glad to hear it's available on DVD in anamorphic. I'm ordering a copy right now so I can show my friends the movie they never even heard of I've been raving about for the past 50 years!

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Edge of Eternity is a good film, thought I felt the narrative could have been better structured. The more intriguing characterisations, such as Les' personal tragedies and Janice's memories of a once booming town, were sidelined for the murder investigation. If the narrative had been structured more around these characterisations, then Edge of Eternity may have been more rewarding.

I'd rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.

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This is the second thriller that I've seen described, by the TV channel showing it, as a western just recently. The other one was 'The River's Edge' (1957) which is in no way a western.

'Edge Of Eternity' has a terrific setting. I don't know if there are cuts of this movie that have been abbreviated. Trying to allow for advert breaks, I don't think that I could have seen the full 80 minutes in the version that I saw.

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Of course, I don't know where you saw it, but if you saw it on a channel with ads you could guesstimate the time for ads vs. what was left over for the movie. Where did you see the movie, and why do you think you may have seen a cut version?

Yes, I've seen some movies labeled westerns that by no common definition of the term should be called "westerns". They seem to be called westerns simply because they take place in the American West, despite the fact that they're set in modern times. Edge of Eternity and The River's Edge are two; Lonely Are the Brave is another.

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I saw it on Film 4 channel on UK TV. I checked the time after it seemed so brief. It was shown in a 95 minute slot with advert breaks. Usually a 90 minutes is given a 2 hour slot so that we get a total of 30 minutes of adverts interspersed altogether. I think that 95 minutes to show a 80 minute film doesn't really add up to the same ratio. Mind you, I didn't really notice if there were less adverts on that particular showing.

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I suspected you might be in the U.K. While I'm American my wife is English and we go to Britain fairly regularly, and offhand I don't recall seeing films edited on British television. Of course, that's an anecdotal observation and so hardly evidence of their standard procedure, though my wife doesn't believe the commercial channels like ITV or 4 cut their movies to fit their ads. The scheduling of programs in Britain is much more flexible than in America, where standard programming mostly begins on the hour or half-hour.

The only other thing that occurs to me is something that applies to Region 2 DVDs and Region B Blu-rays, but may not have anything to do with television broadcasts.

As you know, movies are shot at a rate of 24 frames per second, which creates the phenomenon of persistence of vision. This is the way films are presented in cinemas and in most video systems around the world, including in the U.S. (Regions 1 or A), and it's how a film's running time is measured (in this case, 80 minutes).

However, in the PAL system used in the U.K. and western Europe, DVDs play at 25 frames per second, which means the run time of a film is shortened, usually by several minutes. One example I recall is the movie The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), whose actual running time is 92 minutes. But in PAL, the extra frame each second reduces its running time to 88 minutes. While I don't know precisely how much shorter Edge of Eternity would run in PAL, my guess is that at 80 minutes it would run maybe 77 or 78 minutes -- not a huge difference, but perhaps enough to allow them to play the film uncut in a 95-minute time frame. The PAL system is designed to accommodate the television systems in place in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, but as I said I don't know whether this applies only to home video formats or to actual TV broadcasts as well.

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I will check the next time that Film 4 shows 'Edge Of Eternity' to get a good idea of the running time of the movie on there. I also try to check any DVD release of the film over here to see what running time they give. I must say that there didn't seem anything edited out when I saw it. It's just that it was over more quickly than I had been expecting.

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Well, it is a short movie, and without ads it goes even faster.

I tend to doubt it's on DVD in Britain or anywhere else in Europe (though I don't know this for certain). It finally came out on DVD here in the States only after Columbia (Sony) began its MOD program and put this title out as one of its first releases on that line. So it sounds like you'll have to watch it on channel 4 again.

Maybe the title cuts too close to the bone after last week's "Brexit" vote!



🇬🇧

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The title is so prophetic. Film 4 showed the movie on the day before the Referendum. I originally posted to you on the very day of the Referendum, just before going to vote myself. I have to admit that I did vote to tip us over that edge. I hope that I won't eternally regret it.

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Well, as a foreigner, I'll intrude to say that I'm not a fan of bloated, unresponsive, wasteful, micro-managing and unrepresentative bureaucracies like the EU, which in its present incarnation is an unwieldy, foolishly governed semi-disaster.

But at the end of the day it would probably have been better for the UK to stay than to go. I think the damage done to Britain, coupled with the lies of the Leave campaign and the nature of many of its supporters (Farrage and UKIP) has placed Britain in a very bad light and will probably insure that the UK breaks up when next the Scots hold an independence referendum. I think Scottish independence is a bad idea but like many things people will often unwittingly vote to cut off their noses to spite their faces. When I heard that the next day millions of Britons were googling things like EU and Brexit they obviously had no real idea of what they'd been voting on.

It's too bad that everyone insists on respecting a flawed referendum that was legally non-binding. I can't believe they'd rather send the country over that edge of eternity than try to achieve some positive benefits -- leverage the EU for substantive concessions as the price for staying on. The EU needed a jolt. But no one has the guts to try to salvage the situation, any more than the French and Germans and the rest have the will to actually fix all that's wrong with the EU.

I love Britain and the British (as I said, I raided your country for a wife!) and hate to see them in this mess...which is affecting all the rest of us too. Last Friday your country slipped from 5th to 6th largest economy in the world thanks to the billions in losses sustained -- just on that one day. That's serious.

And perhaps the worst blow, as one British comedian put it, is that the Brits have now forfeited their cherished right to look down on Americans for how stupid we are...though he's hoping the old order will be restored if we elect Trump this November. Personally, and no offense intended, I plan to do everything I can to make sure the title of dumbest voters stays in Britain for 2016 at least!

Otherwise there's going to be a lot of people lined up along the rim of the Grand Canyon come November 9. (Which is quite spectacular in real life, by the way.)

Good luck to us both, my friend!

🇺🇸 🇬🇧

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It's interesting to read the opinions of Brexit in America. I had no choice but to vote Leave. I live 30 miles from the epicentre of the Brexit vote, to tune of 75% of the population there. Little towns in Eastern England have been flooded with unskilled East European migrants. The change in comparatively small communities have been altered so quickly and so suddenly. If we could just halt that flow. Most migrants are hard-working, but little towns like Boston and Wisbech can see the flipside of having a tough people who are fond of vodka in their midst.

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