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USA 1958
Directed by
Anthony Mann
100 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Man Of The West

Anthony Mann's low budget western starts off unpromisingly in a jaunty mood 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 which sees him, in a tenuous coincidence, forced to rejoin his old gang it segues into an almost-bizarre piece of psycho-sexual melodrama that also in some respects looks forward to many later "elegiac" Westerns from The Wild Bunch (1969) to Unforgiven (1992) which depict the end of the rule of the gun. .

Reginald Rose, whose work had largely been in television drama, delivers a rather literary screenplay based on the book, 'The Border Jumpers', by Will C. Brown whilst cinematographer Ernest Haller does a good job of giving the action a spare, elemental look.  Mann does not manage to raise the drama to the level i deserves as he moves through the story with, at best, a diligent efficiency.

In his late fifties Gary Cooper, sporting a hiar-piece and presumably cast because of his iconic status in the genre, is way too old to be acceptable as the adopted son of Lee J. Cobb (who was ten years his junior) who snarls, cackles and spits his way through the movie like a Sergio Leone bad-guy-to-be whilst there's some very poorly matched stunt-work with a stand-in for Cooper. Julie London who went on to be better known as a MOR pop singer plays the only female character, a saloon singer who is subjected to various indignities over the course of proceedings, needless to say, eventually falling for Cooper's laconic charms. .




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