Monday, June 24, 2002


The second good western I've seen recently, after THE SEARCHERS. It's about a lynch mob in a small Old West town as they go after the people they think are responsible for a cattle rustling and murder. The story is viewed through the eyes of two outsiders, Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan, who mostly remain passive observers. The opening scene sets up the characters and the basic situation in the town. The bulk of the film follows the mob through the night as they track down the assumed criminals. Most of the movie was shot on artificial sets, which for some critics ruined the atmosphere, but which for others helped increase the claustrophobia and bleakness (the town itself, an exterior set, is already mighty bleak indeed). For me, the atmosphere is practically perfect all the way through. Dana Andrews gives the best performance I've seen from him as one of the men about to be lynched. Jane Darwell plays against type as a bloodthristy mob member and also gives one of her best performances. Some actors I'm not familiar with, like William Eythe, Frank Conroy, and Marc Lawrence, are also quite good, as is Anthony Quinn in a small but crucial role. Although it's classified as a western, it only feels like a tradional one in the first ten minutes. Highly recommended.

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