Monday, October 6, 2014

295. The Man from Laramie (1955)


Running Time: 104 minutes
Directed By: Anthony Mann
Written By: Philip Yordan, Frank Burt, from story by Thomas T. Flynn
Main Cast: James Stewart, Arthur Kennedy, Donald Crisp, Cathy O'Donnell, Alex Nicol
Click here to view the trailer

WHEN IN DOUBT - JIMMY STEWART

I should preface this whole thing with a short story. I sat down Saturday night to watch Beat the Devil. At about the six minute mark, I decided that I just wasn't in the mood for Bogey and decided to save that one for another night. Ultimately I decided that I wasn't in a movie mood at all and threw in the towel. The next night (Sunday) I decided to try another movie while my wife was working the late shift at work. This time a Jimmy Stewart western called The Man from Laramie. It certainly proved that I'm a Stewart man as opposed to a Bogart man....


Will Lockhart (Stewart) along with his traveling companion Charley are delivering supplies to the town of Coronado. Lockhart is coming from Laramie and as a secondary mission is tracking a group of Apache who gunned down a Calvary unit, killing Lockhart's brother in the process. Upon getting the supplies to Coronado, Lockhart first meets  Barbara Waggoman (O'Donnell), whom he has eyes for and a cranky Indian who run Waggoman's General Store. The store and the town are all owned and overseen by Alec Waggoman (Crisp) - Barbara's uncle. Not wanting to return to Laramie with empty wagons, he inquires to Barbara about picking up some sort of cargo. She directs him to the salt flats where she tells him the salt is free for the taking. While shoveling salt into his wagons, he is approached by Dave Waggoman (Nicol) - Alec's son - who berates him for stealing salt, burns his wagons, shoots his mules and roughs up Lockhart. After Lockhart pays off his men, including Charley, he goes back to Coronado to try and recoup his losses. He approaches Alec who agrees to reimburse him for his lost property and send him packing out of town. It turns out that Alec has been dreaming of a stranger who comes to Coronado to kill his son and he's pretty sure that Lockhart is the stranger. Of course, the only man Lockhart is looking to put down is the Apache that killed his brother. Meanwhile, the Waggoman clan deal with a power struggle between the old guard (Alec) and the new blood, Vic (Kennedy) and Dave and Alec deals with his recent diagnosis that he's going blind.

SPOILER ALERT!


Despite the fact that this film was able to get me out of a Bogey movie (temporarily) and make me appreciate Jimmy Stewart even more, it can still be filed under the heading of "nothing special" and another western that just didn't do it for me. Honestly, when I think of all the westerns from THE BOOK that I watched (and not counting the Leone westerns, which feel like something more special than your typical westerns), the only ones that really stick out are Silver Lode and maybe Stagecoach (which is probably due a rewatch by now). I've seen so many westerns that I've just had to endure and while this was better than that and I'd call the time spent an easy two hours, it was still pretty typical stuff from out on the dusty trail.

Was anyone else REALLY disappointed by the ending? I mean, Vic turns out to be the big villain? That just seemed to obvious. Of course Vic was crooked and in fact, it didn't even seem right when he made friends with Stewart's Lockhart just five minutes after Vic's cohort beat him up. I would have much rather seen Charley turn out to be the bad guy or even that cranky Indian from the general store. Come to think of it, that's a loose end that's never tied up, as we're shown this sneaky, disgruntled Indian a few times throughout the picture, yet we're never really told what his deal is. I guess we're just supposed to buy that he's suspicious of Lockhart because Lockhart is looking for Apache. It wouldn't have taken much more creativity from the mind's of the writers to really spruce this script up and provide something a little more cutting edge and unique for this 1955 western. As it is, it's pretty basic and sure, the whole thing where they shoot Lockhart's hand at point blank range is BRUTAL, but not shocking enough to make this stick out.


They definitely "had me" throughout and never lost me and the acting was top notch. Did anyone else think that Arthur Kennedy looked a lot like Kiefer Sutherland? All the more reason he should've been a heel from the get go! Stewart is can't miss as far as my tastes are concerned and Donald Crisp and Alex Nicol turned in fine performances too. The lead actress could've been stronger, sure, but she wasn't really a central character so it's forgivable. The actress that deserves the praise here is Aline MacMahon for her portrayal of the sassy, yet caring Kate Canady.

RATING: 6/10  Nothing to see, but nothing to hate on either. I have one Stewart/Mann collaboration left and I'm hoping it's a little more special than the two I've seen, although Winchester '73 was quite good in retrospect.

MOVIES WATCHED: 853
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 148

October 6. 2014  8:01pm

2 comments:

  1. These Jimmy Stewart / Anthony Mann westerns were a large part in showing me that I was wrong to write off every western as 'not worth bothering with'. OK, this wasn't the best of the bunch, but it gave me an entertaining afternoon.

    Shall be have a discussion on Bogart v Stewart? Oh, go on then.. but you started it!

    Now, as a committed Bogart fan.....
    I'm very happy to give you this point..
    When Bogart was at his best.. correction.. when Bogart was in a good film.. I still think he is great. I'm talking Have and have not, Maltese Falcon.. and yes.. Casablanca.
    But he made some real stinkers.. 'Left Hand of God' leaps out in that section, that even Bogart could never rescue. Slightly 'less bad' such as Sabrina and 'Barefoot Contessa', I can happily live without.
    'Beat the Devil'.. well, we will wait for that one..
    The concession I will happily give is that .. off hand .. I cannot think of a 'stinker' with Jimmy Stewart in.
    Really? Not even 'It's a wonderful life'?
    No.. ''It's a wonderful life' certainly contains some of the most overly tacky sentimental vomit inducing moments ever committed on celluloid .. but there are some very good moments. (almost anything without those nauseating kids).
    So I will come this way forward to meet you.. When Bogart is at his best in his best films.. I'd still go for Humph.. but a Jimmy Stewart film is much more likely to be consistently 'good'.

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    1. Thanks for the thoughtful post Ray. Glad to know you're onboard with my analysis of Bogart and Stewart. I'm really hoping that The African Queen can be that ONE Bogart film that actually wins me over. I have seen it once before, when I was a lot younger and can remember really liking it quite a lot. My tastes have changed so drastically since then, so who knows.....

      Anyway, how is The Naked Spur? Better than this one?

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