HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Last Warrior, The
Artemis 81
Rampage
Quiet Place, A
Braven
Changeover, The
Isle of Dogs
Funny Cow
Maze Runner: The Death Cure
Mad to Be Normal
Beast of Burden
Dead Men Walk
Game Night
Under the Tree
L'Amant Double
Gonin
Coco
Producers, The
Molly's Game
Forest of the Lost Souls, The
Hatchet III
Birdman of Alcatraz
Pacific Rim: Uprising
Wonderstruck
If It Ain't Stiff, It Ain't Worth a Fuck
Nun, The
Red Sparrow
My Friend Dahmer
Journeyman
Heat, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Players of Games: Willy Wonka, Tron and Ready Player One
What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round? The Ends of The Monkees
Flings and Arrows: Conquest vs Flesh + Blood
Orson Around: F for Fake and The Late Great Planet Earth
ITC What You Did There: Retro-Action on Blu-ray
And It Was the Dirtiest Harry We Have Seen in a Very Long Time: The Dirty Harry Series
Manor On Movies: The Astounding She Monster
Manor On Movies: Don't be a dolt. That's not a cult (movie)
Wes Anderson's Big Daddies: Steve Zissou and Others
Bad Taste from Outer Space: Galaxy of Terror and Xtro
A Yen for the 1990s: Iron Monkey and Satan Returns
Hey, Punk: Jubilee and Rock 'n' Roll High School
Help! with The Knack: Richard Lester in 1965
Roll Up, Get Yer Free Cinema: The Shorts on the BFI Woodfall Blu-rays
Time for Heroes: The Dam Busters and How I Won the War
   
 
  Winchester '73 The Gun TrailBuy this film here.
Year: 1950
Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: James Stewart, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Steve McNally, Millard Mitchell, Charles Drake, John McIntire, Will Geer, Jay C. Flippen, Rock Hudson, John Alexander, Steve Brodie, James Millican, Abner Biberman, Tony Curtis, James Best
Genre: Western
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: The town of Dodge City is celebrating its centenary with a sharpshooting contest and for the victor there's a brand new Winchester '73 rifle to be won, and not any old rifle, but one of a sort that represents the finest manufacture it is possible to create. Such guns are one in a thousand, so rare are they, so understandably many are keen to own this particular item, which is what brings Lin McAdam (James Stewart) to the area, but not simply because he thinks he can win it, also because of a certain other man he believes will be attracted to the competition...

If anyone made the defining Hollywood Westerns in the nineteen-fifties of a psychological type, then director Anthony Mann would be a strong candidate, especially those he made with star Stewart. Not that this example had their formula perfected, but for all its rough edges it remained one of the best of their collaborations which could have been down to its sheer freshness after years of black hat versus white hat Roy Rogers or Gene Autry adventures. Certainly there had been Westerns for the grown-ups before this, but few were quite as influential in announcing that the genre was getting serious more often than not from now on.

You could track the evolution of the style from this film all the way to the Spaghetti Westerns of the sixties to the all-too-brief renaissance in the nineties with the likes of Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, and if cinema outgrew it, then you couldn't really blame Mann and Stewart for setting that in motion when what they were doing was a minor revolution, perhaps born of the film noir approach and what that had done for thrillers in the forties. As it stood, the plot was simple enough here, deceptively so as we followed the journey of the gun of the title through the hands of a selection of characters, one brave and noble, one cowardly, one villainous - well, make that a few villainous.

The point being that no matter how the rifle was regarded as a useful tool for existing in the Old West, it was only a matter of time before it would be used against a human being. This burden of potential murder may not weigh heavily on the inamimate object itself (it's not as if it has any personality to speak of) but on the characters who move into its orbit. When McAdam catches sight of the man he's been tracking for quite a while in a Dodge City saloon, he goes for his gun and his quarry, Dutch Henry Brown (Steve McNally), goes for his... but there's a snag when the Marshal, Wyatt Earp (Will Geer) has confiscated every weapon in the area, so all they can do is bide their time until someone wins that rifle.

Despite the first-billed Stewart, this was as much an ensemble piece as it was a star vehicle; he was taking a chance on this film to give his post-war career a boost, and it needed it after a string of underperformers (including It's a Wonderful Life, oddly), yet was generous enough to disappear from the action for fairly long stretches, allowing his fellow castmembers a chance to shine. Among them were Shelley Winters as a saloon girl (i.e. prostitute, except they couldn't say that onscreen in 1950) who backs the wrong horse when she thinks Charles Drake will protect her, John McIntire as an expert cardsharp who trades with the Indians (including Rock Hudson in warpaint!), and best of all Dan Duryea, one of the finest weaselly bullies Hollywood ever brought to the movies, and here on great form as an outlaw even less scrupulous than Dutch Henry. There is naturally a backstory between McAdam and him which we find out at the end, but it's clichéd business: what wasn't was Mann's forthright, mature and exciting style, with Stewart matching him perfectly.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1472 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which film has the best theme song?
Spectre
The Ups and Downs of a Handyman
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Robert Segedy
Darren Jones
  Asma Amal
  Chris Lawrence
Enoch Sneed
George White
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: