Somehow we missed this made-for-cable Western starring Tom Selleck and based on a novel by Louis L'Amour when it came out about a dozen years ago, hence the "overlooked" designation. Hard to believe, isn't it? But we came across an inexpensive copy of the DVD at Sam's, couldn't remember if we'd seen it, and decided to take a chance. I'm glad we did.
I'd read the novel probably thirty years ago, so the story wasn't completely new to me and the movie version seems like a pretty faithful adaptation. The hero, Rafe Covington (played by Selleck, and by the way, the character's name was Rafe Caradec in the book), shows up in Wyoming to protect the ranch owned by a friend of his who has died, and to protect the friend's widow (Virginia Madsen) as well. The local saloon owner/bad guy (Mark Harmon) has designs on both.
No, there's nothing here that will surprise anybody who's read or watched a few Westerns. But even something that's very familiar can be quite entertaining if done well, and CROSSFIRE TRAIL is. Selleck makes a great Western hero and has a real flair for delivering lines like the one he says to Madsen when he's explaining why he didn't become a priest like his mother wanted him to be: "Never quite got the knack of turnin' the other cheek." In addition, character actors abound, such as Wilford Brimley playing an old ranch hand who becomes Selleck's sidekick and Barry Corbin as the local sheriff who's in the bad guy's pocket. Brad Johnson is appropriately menacing as a sinister gunfighter.
Simon Wincer, who directed QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER (a great film with a lousy title), is the director of CROSSFIRE TRAIL and keeps the action moving along at a nice pace. The Canadian scenery, standing in for Wyoming, is spectacular, the music is stirring, and all in all I had a grand time watching this one. If you're a Western fan like me and missed it like we did, you should hunt up a copy and check it out.