Bend of the River (1952): Anthony Mann’s Western, Starring Jimmy Stewart

One of the most productive collaborations between actor James Stewart and director Anthony Mann in the 1950s, Bend of the River is one of their best Westerns, set in Oregon in the 1840s.

Jimmy Stewart plays Glyn McLintock, a former outlaw, now working as trail guide for a group of Oregon-bound farmers.  He is aided in this mission Emerson Cole (Arthur Kennedy), an unrepentant horse thief.

Upon arriving in Portland, McLintock gets involved in a scam operated by trader Howard Petrie, who has reneged on his promise to ship goods to the settlers. Unable to take action through legal channels, Stewart and farmer Jeremy Baile (Jay C. Flippen) steal the provision and scurry back to the settlement by boat.

On their return, they discover that Cole has sold out to the crooked Petrie and intends to reclaim the supplies, taking Jeremy and his daughter Laura (former singer turn actress) Julie Adams as hostages to ensure safe passage.

As in the other Stewart-Mann collaborations, Stewart plays a darker role, in an effort to break away from his all-goof and easygoing screen persona. To that extent, he excels in embodying a tough, self-serving rugged individual, whose true motives and loyalties remain in doubt until the tale’s closing moments.

Bend of the River was adapted by Borden Chase from Bill Gulick’s novel Bend of the Snake.

You can spot the young Rock Hudson in a small part before he became a star later in the decade.

Running time: 91 minutes.

Directed by: Anthony Mann

Written By: Borden Chase

Released in theaters: February 13, 1952.

DVD: May 6, 2003