Movie Details

A prime early example of how to make a truly worthwhile TV movie, Stranger on the Run is a tough, minimalist western in the tradition of the theatrical oaters of director Anthony Mann (one of whose favorite actors, Dan Duryea, has a supporting part in Stranger). Michael Parks is painfully convincing as a sadistic 1880s railroad detective who has a curious notion of fun and games. Upon catching drifters who hitch rides on the trains in his Southwestern jurisdiction, Parks allows the "criminals" one hour head start in the desert, with horse and supplies; then he and his deputies track the men down and kill them. Parks' latest victim is hard-bitten ex-convict Henry Fonda, who has come to town to deliver a message to his cellmate's sister. Fonda proves to be more of challenge than Parks is accustomed to, a fact that gives this brutal little tale its teeth. Anne Baxter costars in this superior TV-movie outing. Stranger on the Run's multilayered teleplay is by Reginald Rose. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi