Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1955
Directed by
King Vidor
85 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Man Without A Star

The star referred to in the title of this B grade range war Western is not a tin one but rather the more high-falutin’ symbol of destiny. It is an idea referred to in the opening song but doesn’t get much of a look in thereafter in a routine (“right purty” is a stock standard term of approbation) screenplay by Borden Chase and D.D. Beauchamp who scripted a raft of Westerns for the big and small screens during the 1950s and 60s (including the television remake of this film, A Man Called Gannon, 1968 as well as an episode of The Virginian that was in turn used in a cobbled together film, The Bull of the West, 1971).

Kirk Douglas gives an over-the-top performance as Dempsey Rae, an easy-going drifter who befriends the callow 17-year-old Jeff Jimson (William Campbell). The two end up working for Reed Bowman (Jeanne Crain) a scheming business woman who is gobbling up all the open range for her cattle. Dempsey initially fancies himself on a good thing but soon bucks against her authoritarian ways and sides with the local ranchers who are trying to defend their grazing land by using barbed wire to fence it off.

The driving force of the narrative revolves around Dempsey’s character as the classic embodiment of the free-wheelin’ spirit whose days are essentially numbered as “the wire” moves in. It is a theme flogged mercilessly (I lost count of the number of references to “the wire”) but Douglas’s ebullient performance (the film was made by his own production company), Richard Boone as a typically villainous gunslinger. Russell Metty's effective exterior photography and King Vidor’s seasoned direction make this watchable enough.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst