Man of the West

Spencer Warren writes:

Tomorrow night at 8 p.m. on Turner Classic Movies interested readers can connect with the Glorious Fifties in the form of one of the greatest of all Westerns, Man of the West (1958). The film stars Gary Cooper, for thirty years the embodiment of the quiet American hero, and Lee J. Cobb as something of a demented Western bin-Laden.

The director is Anthony Mann, one of the great directors of Westerns in the fifties (and of film noirs in the forties, and of the magnificent epic El Cid in 1961).

Note Mannís artful and thus especially powerful treatment of violence in this film (e.g. the lighting and composition of the figures in the scene where the gang sexually taunts the girl Cooper is trying to shield, Julie London). Note also Mannís use of rugged landscapeómassive rock formationsóto elevate the drama at the climax. Cooperís climactic lineóďIím cominí after you, Doc. Iím takin you inĒóhis face in close-up framed by massive blue sky, is vintage Fifties heroics. This movie also has a typically expansive, noble musical score, by Leigh Harline.

Next Tuesday evening readers can see several of Mannís classic Westerns with James Stewart, the greatest of which in my view is The Naked Spur (1953).

The titles of these two films alone speak of a now distant time in our popular culture, yet one that is still tangible and vivid thanks to wonderful films like these. Keep in mind that a CinemaScope film like Man of the West requires a huge screen (not a multi-plex) to appreciate fully the scale of Mannís direction, but the viewer can discern some of this in the letter-box format used by Turner Classic Movies.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 19, 2006 04:07 PM | Send

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