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Howard Kemp is a bounty hunter who's been after killer Ben Vandergroat for a long time. Along the way, Kemp is forced to take on a couple of partners, an old prospector named Jesse Tate and a dishonorably discharged Union soldier, Roy Anderson. When they learn that Vandergroat has a $5000 reward on his head, greed starts to take the better of them. Vandergroat takes every advantage of the situation sowing doubt between the two men at every opportunity finally convincing one of them to help him escape. Written by
In Germany all films get dubbed, and at that time even the titles were translated. Thus it happened that in the German dubbed version James Stewart's name is spelled wrong in the front credits, with a d in the end. See more »
In the opening sequence when Jesse Tate turns to face Howard Kemp, in one shot (from behind him) his hands are low (behind him). In the next shot from behind Kemp, Jesse's hands are raised. See more »
A western focusing on character development rather that simple bang, bang.
James Stewart and Anthony Mann worked together on several films during the 1950's, and this film, "The Naked Spur", represents a very satisfying effort, pooling the collective talents of a great star with a renowned director and letting a story tell itself on film.
There is very little action in the sense of a normal western, no shootouts in the streets, no bar-room brawls, no breakouts from the jail, or even a bank robbery. There is no town, period; the film was made outdoors in Colorado, and the scenery simply enhances and enriches the plot of the film.
Basically, James Stewart plays a bounty hunter, Howard Kemp, who has a chance to catch a major outlaw, Ben Vandergroat portrayed by Robert Ryan. To Kemp, capturing the outlaw represents a chance to make something of himself, start over, with no ties to the former failures he has met. Along the way, he bumps into a weather-beaten prospector, Jesse, played by veteran Milliard Mitchell, and a deserter from the army, played by Ralph Meeker. Ryan has a traveling companion, Lina, (Janet Leigh), and when Ben is captured, she does make efforts to free him, thus causing Stewart's character all sorts of grief and anguish. Ryan, in a starkly brilliant performance, also attempts to create chances to escape.
In watching the film develop, one has to wonder if Kemp will ultimately, due to his hardened nature, surrender Ben to the authorities, or will he simply let the outlaw go, and try to make a fresh start elsewhere. The answer comes at the side of a roaring river set between a rocky gorge. A very unique film, and one that deserves a watch by western fans.
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