After Custer and the 7th Cavalry are wiped out by Indians, everyone expects the worst. Capt. Nathan Brittles is ordered out on patrol but he's also required to take along Abby Allshard, ... See full summary »
In a marksmanship contest, Lin McAdam wins a prized Winchester rifle, which is immediately stolen by the runner-up, Dutch Henry Brown. This "story of a rifle" then follows McAdams' pursuit, and the rifle as it changes hands, until a final showdown and shoot-out on a rocky mountain precipice. Written by
Herman Seifer <email@example.com>
Anthony Mann's "Winchester '73" was the first of several westerns that he and James Stewart did together in the 1950's. It is routinely considered one of the best of the lot, if not the very best.
The story follows a revenge-seeking gunslinger (James Stewart) who has recently picked up the trail of his quarry (Stephen McNally). The circumstances surrounding their quarrel are not immediately apparent; instead, they are revealed gradually throughout the course of the film. Meanwhile, the gun referred to in the title is the subject of a subplot wherein the rifle initially won by Stewart's character in a marksmanship contest changes hands repeatedly.
The script shows some skill in bringing the fairly simple story to life but the actors deserve much of the credit. James Stewart is stalwart in the leading role, Stephen McNally makes for a menacing villain, Millard Mitchell is ideal in tandem with Stewart, Shelley Winters makes a fine leading lady and Dan Duryea is at his slimy best as the amoral Waco Johnnie Dean.
On the technical front, Mann's direction is sharp throughout and the film boasts some nice cinematography courtesy of Oscar winner William H. Daniels. Overall, I wouldn't necessarily place the film alongside the best efforts of John Ford and Howard Hawks but it certainly holds its own among more varied competition.
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