HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Don't Breathe 2
Closing Time
Cryptozoo
Weathering with You
Rim of the World
Love & Basketball
JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time
Trapped
We Need to Do Something
Falbalas
Vanguard
A-X-L
Injustice
Bigfoot Hunters
Armitage III: Polymatrix
Girls Nite Out
Moxie!
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
Pig
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
V/H/S/94
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
   
 
Newest Articles
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Naked Spur, The Devil's Bargain
Year: 1953
Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: James Stewart, Janet Leigh, Robert Ryan, Ralph Meeker, Millard Mitchell
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 3 votes)
Review: Jesse Tate (Millard Mitchell) has been wandering out West for some time now with only his horse and mule for company, hoping to strike gold if nothing else, but today he has a reason for surprise as he is approached by a gun-wielding bounty hunter, Howard Kemp (James Stewart). The man is highly suspicious of him and has to ensure that he is no threat before even contemplating conversation, but Tate is an amiable sort and soon Kemp is halfway convinced he is respectable enough to share his dilemma with, or part of it anyway: he is seeking an outlaw, and there is a reward...

But what Kemp doesn't tell Tate is how much that reward is, which is the first inkling that maybe nobody in this is exactly acting on noble impulses. And yet, save for one character they have their more trustworthy side too, a side which would see them look out for their fellow man, and that is what Stewart's hunter has to wrestle with if he is to win out over his near-wrecked conscience. Naturally, this was one of his Westerns directed by Anthony Mann, where such internal upheaval was par for the course, and Stewart was keen to extend his range from the nice guy he had made his name with during the thirties and forties.

Hence his far more shaded personalities in films like The Naked Spur, all of them plagued by demons, though it was Alfred Hitchcock you could argue who took this anti-hero as far as he could go in Vertigo; while his personas in the Mann films were troubled, they were not sickos like he played in that cult classic. Yet here, while some are of the opinion that it was the finest Western Stewart ever made, there were more problems with it than the ones Kemp was forced to contemplate, as for a start he wasn't the most interesting character, and this was not the best performance. That honour went to the star in the role of the villain, Robert Ryan.

Ryan took the part of Ben Vandergroat, Kemp's quarry, with aplomb, crafting one of his most charismatic readings and obviously relishing the chance to play a real nasty piece of work. At first we think that another character, Roy Anderson (Ralph Meeker), will be the main source of antagonism and in many other films of this genre he would have been, but he is a red herring, and being a disgraced cavalry officer is merely to emphasise that there are not characters here out for anyone but themselves, it's just that some hide it better than others. Anderson and Tate assist in capturing Vandergroat, leaving them to agree an uneasy truce about splitting the reward three ways.

From then on it's up to Ben to conspire to split the agreement, and as Tate observes, to strike a bargain with him is to make a deal with the Devil, leading to the finale that contains as much action as the rest of the movie - there's always something going on here. But there's another individual to contend with, and she is Lina Patch (Janet Leigh), daughter of one of Ben's late associates who sticks by him in misplaced loyalty, though is mainly present to make Kemp wake up to the moral man he is inside. Kemp has a past where he felt he badly let the love of his life down, and this is what spurs him to make up for it by getting the bounty money, but for a Mann Western this is a little too straightforward, and Stewart fails to find much nuance. This doesn't harm the film, but it does render the finale that much less convincing as it has you believe Kemp would throw it all away for some pat concept of the decent thing. Ryan makes it worth watching. Music by Bronislau Kaper.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 5246 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (4)


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 star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: