A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.
The 1870s, New Mexico territory: T.C. Jeffords is a cattle baron who built his ranch, the Furies, from scratch. He borrows from banks, pays hired hands with his own script ("T.C.'s"), and carries on low-level warfare with the Mexicans who settled the land but are now considered squatters. He has enemies, including Rip Darrow, a saloon owner who's father T.C. took land from. His headstrong daughter, Vance, has a life-long friend in one of the Mexicans, her heart set on Rip, and dad's promise she'll run the Furies someday. Her hopes are smashed by Rip's revenge, a gold-digger who turns T.C.'s head, and T.C.'s own murderous imperialism. Is Vance to be cursed by fury and hatred? Written by
This Antony Mann Western is little-known compared to his collaborations with James Stewart or Man of the West or a good number of other Mann films, but it's an equal to his best work. Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Huston (in his final performance) star as a daughter and her father, powerful ranchers who own the titular land. Their relationship, much as the title suggests, has a psycho-sexual tinge. When men call on Stanwyck, her father balks. And when hoochies cling to Huston, well, then things get real ugly! The Furies shows Mann bringing a lot of his noir skills to the Western genre. One can easily see how that genre influenced Mann's characterizations, but, in terms of film-making, he had largely moved on. The Furies is just dark and often nasty. I have to wonder why the film is so little known. My thought is that almost all Westerns feature male protagonists, with the most notably exception being Johnny Guitar. I'm not going to rag too much on that film, because I do like it, but The Furies is far superior. Stanwyck was rarely better. I might actually rate this as her best. Huston went out on one of his best performances. It's hard to believe he died before the film was even released with as much energy as he shows. My only real complaint with the movie is that it peaks too early. The standoff at the Herrera's fort is one of the greatest sequences in the history of the genre, and it's so good that the remainder of the film drags a bit. Still, a masterpiece. Thanks again, Criterion!
8 of 10 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?