6 December 2016

THE MAN FROM LARAMIE: AN ICONIC WESTERN REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS.



THE MAN FROM LARAMIE. (1955) DIRECTED BY ANTHONY MANN. BASED ON THE SHORT STORY BY THOMAS T. FLYNN: FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE SATURDAY EVENING POST IN 1954. DISTRIBUTED BY COLUMBIA PICTURES.
STARRING JAMES STEWART, DONALD CRISP, ALEX NICOL, CATHY O'DONNELL, ARTHUR KENNEDY, ALINE MACMAHON AND WALLACE FORD.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is one of those really famous Western movies that people always mention when the genre comes up in conversation. I've loved Westerns myself since I was a nipper. I always watched the Sunday afternoon film on Ireland's main television channel back then, RTE ONE, and if it was a Western I'd be thrilled to bits.

However, I would also have accepted a good long old historical or Biblical epic like BEN HUR or EL CID. Anything to take my mind off studying for those endless exams...!

James Stewart stars here in his fifth and final Western collaboration with acclaimed director Anthony Mann. He plays Will Lockhart, a man with a past (aren't they always...?) who suffers a shocking injustice pretty much as soon as he sets foot in the isolated Wild West town of Coronado. And he was only delivering a wagon-load of freight to the local mercantile, as well...!

Naturally, he's hopping mad about what's happened as he's a man with strong principles and a well-developed sense of fairness and justice. Should Dave Waggoman, perpetrator of the injustice and son of the local land-and-cattle baron Alec Waggoman, get away scot-free with his bullying ways? Will doesn't seem to think so.

The two will clash again before the film is over. What's even more ominous is the fact that there's a chance that the wild, unscrupulous Dave Waggoman may just be part of the real reason that Will has come to Coronado.

Let's put it this way. He sure as shit didn't come for the not-so-free-after-all salt deposits out in the salt flats. He didn't even come for the company, charming and all as it may be, of Dave's pretty cousin Barbara who runs the mercantile.

No, Will Lockhart's a man on a mission. He's come to Coronado to kill a man he's never even met. And he's not a man to shirk his responsibilities...

James Stewart is in wonderful form as the honest, honourable and distinctly likeable Will Lockhart. He's always been my favourite Western actor, along with Richard Widmark who co-starred with him in the gritty movie TWO RODE TOGETHER that even has the word 'rape' in it and everything. That's how gritty it is, see? 

Anyway, whatever the Western, you just know that James Stewart will always do the right thing, even when he's right up against it with a loaded gun in his hand...

There's a great theme song in the film, plus a scene of extreme sadistic violence that might make you want to turn your head away for a minute. Sure, it's probably not a big deal in comparison to some of the stuff we've seen since, but it was quite shocking for the time and it'll get your blood boiling in defence of lovely old Jimmy Stewart, who never did anything so awful to anyone in any of his films. As far as I know...!

The relationship between cattle baron Alec Waggoman and his sort-of-surrogate son Vic Hasbro, who's worked for him as long as either of them can remember, is crucial to the plot. Vic has grown up in expectation of taking over his share of the giant Barb ranch when the time comes. I mean, fair's fair, right? He's done the graft, so he should reap the rewards.

Still though, it seems like Vic's always going to have to play second fiddle to Alec's natural son, Dave, who ironically is irresponsible, untrustworthy, dishonest and unscrupulous, all the things a man wouldn't want in a son and heir to the family business and fortune.

Will the much more worthy Vic get stiffed on his share of the ranch in favour of the rapscallion Dave, just because Dave is Alec's real kith and kin, flesh and blood, etc? Is Alec playing fair with the loyal Vic by blowing hot and cold with him the way he does? 

And does Vic perhaps have secrets of his own that he wouldn't want Alec to find out about? Would he even kill to keep these secrets? You'll have to watch the film to find out, my curious little movie peeps.

THE MAN FROM LARAMIE is out now in a dinky Dual Format Edition (Blu-Ray and DVD), courtesy of EUREKA ENTERTAINMENT and THE MASTERS OF CINEMA series.

Brilliantly filmed in CINEMASCOPE (for widening!) and TECHNICOLOR (for brightening!), a lot of film folk consider this magnificent film to be the crowning glory of the five Western movie collaborations between Anthony Mann and James Stewart.

It comes with a load of rather impressive extra features, including a new video interview with film critic and novelist, Kim Newman, who's written for film magazines EMPIRE and SIGHT AND SOUND as well as being the author of tons of novels and short stories.

He's kind of who I'd like to be when I grow up, haha, though in a million years I could never hope to talk as knowledgeably about movies as Mr. Newman does on this video interview here.

I actually had the pleasure of hearing him speak in person earlier this year when he came to the Irish Film Institute to introduce Hammer's THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT as part of the Folk Horror Festival that was running at the time.

He was every bit as lovely and fluent in the flesh as he is on the video interview. I hope that, next time our paths cross, if they do, we can chat in person for a bit. I'm sure that, like all celebrity film critics, he'll be just dying to hear my lengthy views on various movies and their directors and their many, many plotholes. Maybe I should carry a list of these around with me at all times, just in case...?

PS, I can't believe I forgot to mention that there are Apaches in this film...!

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

 You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com







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