Shot on location at the Grand Canyon, Edge of Eternity is a remarkably accomplished technical feat from the director of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Riot in Cell Block 11.
The idea for the movie came from producer Kendrick Sweet who, while flying over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, noticed aerial tram cars used by a US company (which used them to extract bat dung from the canyon’s caves!). Sweet decided to utilise them for this gripping thriller.
Director Don Siegel makes the Canyon the star, keeps the action believable, makes sure the ultimate solution is a surprise and holds the dangers at a furiously high level. Burnett Guffey’s photography is exceptional, making fine use of the browns of the Canyon and the blues of Arizona skies.” The filmmakers also made good use of natural phenomena on location: for example, when a violent dust storm threatened to delay shooting, Siegel simply incorporated it into his story.
The story concerns Sheriff’s deputy Les Martin (Cornel Wilde), who is baffled by three violent deaths around the Grand Canyon. His investigations are aided by Janice Kendon (Victoria Shaw), whose father, Jim Kendon (Alexander Lockwood), once ran an adjacent gold mine. It transpires that one of the victims was an executive at a gold mine in the Canyon who discovered that his gold was being stolen and shipped to Mexico, where it fetched higher prices than in the US. Les and Janice corner the murderer, Scotty O’Brien (Mickey Shaughnessy), who takes Janice hostage and tries to cross the 9,000 feet span of the Grand Canyon in a miner’s cable car. Les follows them, with a spectacular fight-to-the-death scene taking place 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. High drama, in every sense.
USA / 1959
Director: Don Siegel
Writer: Knut Swenson, Richard Collins, Ben Markson
Cast: Cornel Wilde, Victoria Shaw, Mickey Shaughnessy, Edgar Buchanan, Rian Garrick, Jack Elam, Alexander Lockwood