Anthony Mann directed this brilliant psychological Western, starring Jimmy Stewart at the peak of his career; Stewart had just starred in Hitchcock’s masterpiece, “Rear Window.”
In a tale that contains elements—aging patriarch and his offsprings–of Shakespeare’s tragedy, “King Lear,” Stewart plays Will Lockhart, who is obsessed with finding the man who sold automatic rifles to the Apaches, resulting in the death of his younger brother.
It may not be a coincidence that Gary Cooper’s sheriff in Fred Zinnemann’s “High Noon” was also called Will (Kane)
When Will arrives in the town of Coronado, New Mexico, it is firmly ruled by the blind and aging patriarch Alec Waggoman (Donald Crisp, Oscar-winner for “How Green Was My Valley”). Unaware that he is trespassing on Waggoman’s land, he is accosted and publicly humiliated by Alec’s sociopathic son, Dave (Alex Nicol), who brutally beats and tortures Will.
Miraculously, Will is rescued at the last minute by Waggoman’s adopted son, Vic Hansbro (Arthur Kennedy). Will finds that Waggoman has become increasingly concerned over who will inherit his vast empire.
This is one of the best Westerns of the 1950s, and one of the many fruitful collaborations between director Mann and actor Stewart in a series of Western and non-Western films (the popular biopic, “The Glenn Miller Story”).
James Stewart as Will Lockhart
Arthur Kennedy as Vic Hansbro
Donald Crisp as Alec Waggoman
Cathy O’Donnell as Barbara Waggoman
Alex Nicol as Dave Waggoman
Aline MacMahon as Kate Canaday
Running time: 102 Minutes.
Directed by Anthony Mann
February 8, 2000.