Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday Westerns: Man of the West

Welcome a new weekly feature here at Movies With Abe. In an effort to provide a look back at older films and a desire to highlight a specific genre, I will be spotlighting a Western film each week, combining films from a course I took while at NYU called Myth of the Last Western and other films I have seen and do see. If you have a Western you’d like to write about, please let me know and feel free to submit a guest spot for future weeks!

Man of the West
Directed by Anthony Mann
Released October 1, 1958

This Western in a classic representation of the battle between good and evil, with a fair deal of repentance, reform, and atonement mixed in. Link (Gary Cooper) is a former gunslinger turned honest man whose train is hijacked on his way home to meet a schoolteacher for his new town. Unwittingly brought back into his old life, he is forced to confront the people he used to know and the things he used to do. As a changed man, he now must find a way to protect the people with whom he was traveling and to help save his hometown from certain devastation. The trailer advertises “Gary Cooper in a role that fits him like a gun fits a holster,” and it’s certainly worthwhile to praise Cooper’s embodiment of a man with many regrets whose wounds are reopened as he has to look back at what he’s done and see what he can do about it now. Lee J. Cobb also gets the opportunity to play a great villain, and the interaction of his character with Cooper’s makes for some of the best moments of the film. Morally and thematically speaking, it’s a strong picture, but there’s plenty more than that to it. “Man of the West” takes advantage of its setting to showcase some truly memorable scenes of the West, including an eerie, slow-paced trek through a ghost town where Link pursues some robbers from his former gang. If nothing else, this film certainly has a great title. Check out the trailer from TCM below.

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