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USA 1958
Directed by
Anthony Mann
100 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Man Of The West

Anthony Mann's final western starts off unpromisingly with Gary Cooper as a reformed outlaw, Link Jones, on a journey to Fort Worth to find him a school marm. After the first act and he is forced to rejoin his old outlaw band however it segues into an almost-bizarre piece of near-classical drama with a quietly metaphysical bent that looks forward to many later "elegiac" Westerns from The Wild Bunch (1969) to Unforgiven (1992). 

Reginald Rose, whose work had largely been in television drama, delivers an intelligent, slightly literary, screenplay based on the book, 'The Border Jumpers', by Will C. Brown whilst cinematographer Ernest Haller does a good job of raising the film to an almost mythic level. Mann does not manage to raise the drama to the same height, Gary Cooper, presumably cast because of his iconic status, is way too old to be the adopted son of Lee J. Cobb (who snarls and spits his way through the movie like a Sergio Leone bad-guy-to-be) and there's some very poorly matched stunt-work with a stand-in for Cooper but for all its flaws this is a intriguing film for anyone interested in the development of the Hollywood Western.

 

 

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