MAN OF THE WEST
(directed by Anthony Mann, 1958)
***** (out of 5)
> The great Anthony Mann directed this morally three-dimensional Gary Cooper western, about a bad man turned good, who is accidentally reunited with the gang he ran away from a decade before. Towering Everyman Gary Cooper is forced to pretend to be the amoral man he was and not the virtuous man he now is, to protect a couple of innocents in his care from the casual cruelty of his vicious former mentor, a wonderful Lee J. Cobb, swaggering and swearing and roaring every line. But we are not fooled. gary Cooper is… Gary Cooper, after all! It’s a fascinating and tense subterfuge.
. This is a thoughtful, philosophical western thriller that excels straight down the checklist:
> Great director, working in his preferred genre, functioning at the top of his game: CHECK.
> Grand natural settings and cinematography: CHECK.
> Solid, compelling storytelling: CHECK.
> Well-drawn, interesting characters to love and hate: CHECK.
> Fine acting from fine actors: CHECK.
> Excellent sense of time and place: CHECK.
> Lush, sweeping musical score: CHECK.
> FIVE-STAR CLASSIC? 5 CHECKS!
. Anthony Mann was a helluva filmmaker. MAN OF THE WEST is a helluva film.
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