Gunman’s Walk

Spencer Warren writes:

At 8 pm this evening Turner Classic Movies will be showing the outstanding, but not well known, 1958 Western, Gunman’s Walk.

In my opinion Van Heflin, as the manly, swaggering rancher, delivers the greatest performance ever in a Western. He raises one of his sons (Tab Hunter) self-indulgently in his own image, with tragic results, and the film ends in one of the most powerful cathartic climaxes you will ever see. I cannot think of any other Western actor who could have carried off this moving scene.

Directed by Phil Karlson, who is admired for his hard-boiled fifties crime dramas like Kansas City Confidential and 99 River Street, this superb movie is a perfect example of the, yes, manly, high-level, classical professionalism of 1950s CinemaScope Westerns, which represented the culmination of the genre before its decline began in the 1960s. Viewers will have to use their imaginations to appreciate the image size and depth of CinemaScope’s stunning vistas of the West, which can be seen only on the screen of a large (ie pre-multiplex, pre-Sixties) theater.

Viewers also may wish to skip the first two and a half minutes, when the far-left host Robert Osborne makes his introduction. He may well note the now admitted homosexuality of Tab Hunter (in a recent tell-all book), one of the “all-American” pretty boys of Fifties films, beloved of teens.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 11, 2011 05:40 PM | Send

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