Dir: Anthony Mann | Cast: James Stewart, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Crisp, Cathy O’Donnell | US | Western | 104min
James Stewart is unusually lean and mean here as a vengeful vigilante on a mission to find his brother’s killer, in a potent psychological Western which was to be the last of his five collaborations with Anthony Mann and the first to be filmed on CinemaScope and Technicolor capturing the vast expanses and glowing vibrancy of its Arizona and New Mexico settings. The other four were Winchester ’73 (1953); Bend of the River (1953); The Naked Spur (1953) and The Far Country (1955).
Writers Philip Yordan and Frank Burt based their script on Thomas T Flynn’s 1950s story of the same name and the film is scored by a theme song that topped the UK Singles Chart during October 1955, from its UK recording by Jimmy Young.
As Will Lockhart, Stewart becomes embroiled in a small town community of Coronado where he comes up against the powerful Waggoman ranching family – headed by English actor Donald Crisp’s baron and his vicious son Dave (Alex Nicol) – while garnering information about his brother’s death during an Apache raid. This is a powerfully resonant drama that has been likened to King Lear in its involving almost noirish storyline.
Particularly good is Ailine MacMahon as a wise older woman who befriends Stewart’s Lockhart. Whilst Cathy O’Donnell’s romantic love interest adds another dimension, but very much a second fiddle to the virtuoso performances of Stewart, Crisp and Kennedy. MT
ON DUAL FORMAT COURTESY OF EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA | 5 DECEMBER 2016