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M-G-M's first 3-D production shot at a rodeo in Tucson, Arizona is a story surrounded by objects flying into the camera. The story takes place in one day between the rodeo events where bronc buster Gig Young has left his wife, Polly Bergen, for rodeo-follower (i.e., "groupie" for those born since the sixties) Barbara Lawrence. The reconciliation of Young and Bergen is brought about by Harry Morgan (still being billed as Henry Morgan), an over-the-hill bronc buster now reduced to being the show's clown. (Rodeo clowns are usually the most disciplined, most valuable to the welfare of the rodeo cowboys and best-trained of all rodeo performers but Hollywood always showed them as down-and-outers.) Morgan of course has a pretty wife, Jean Hagen, and a little boy, Lee Aker, and anybody watching this film and not guessing who is going to get killed just hasn't been exposed to enough scripts from Hollywood set around a rodeo arena. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
The definitive rodeo movie -at least for my money -is The Lusty Men ,directed by the great Nicholas Ray ,a movie that appeared a year before Arena and Arena is essentially a scaled down ,somewhat soap opera style version of the Ray picture with a more lightweight and less stellar cast in the key roles . The protagonist is Hob Daniels ( Gig Young ) a rodeo star whose career and resultant nomadic lifestyle have brought about a separation between himself and his wife ( Polly Bergen ) .They meet up in Tuscon where Hob is competing in a rodeo and an attempted reconciliation fails to materialise .Hob is accompanied by his current girl friend ,Sylvia Lorgan ( Barbara Lawrence) a woman who in another era would be described as a rodeo groupie . Also present is an ageing rodeo star fallen up hard times ;this is Lew Hutchins (Harry Morgan ) whose devoted wife ( Jean Hagen ) ,rather like Hobs wife ,would like to see her husband settling down instead of working as a rodeo clown ,thje only work he can get . The movie is in essence the battle between the women and their desire for domesticity and the men who are in love with their free spirited ,hand to mouth world with its camaraderie and celebrity . The script is ,sadly ,too lightweight to explore this tension in any but the most perfunctory of ways and the picture never manages to be anything other than pleasant but unmemorable
Persuasive performances all round and good use of documentary footage shot at the Tuscon rodeo help but this is essentially a moderate B movie
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