On Edmund O'Brien's birthday, 2012, Turner Classic Movies presented this movie hitherto unknown to me.
This is an astonishingly good movie, and for several reasons: It assembled some of the most talented actors in Hollywood; they were all good to even great actors (Mr. O'Brien, for example, is one of those rarities who is believable in any role, and anyone who is a good cowboy is, to me, at the top of his profession); the characters, except, of course, for the bad guys, were likable and often admirable; even the bad guys were well-rounded and believable.
There are two female leads, and both of them are good horse riders; both even know how to mount a horse, even in long skirts, as if they had been riding for years (and might have been; unfortunately, I haven't read their bios to know for sure). That is important for characters who are supposed to be natives to the West.
Don Beddoe has not only one of his best roles, he handles it beautifully. He shows he was an actor who deserved even more and even better roles.
Raymond Hatton was a veteran of movies back to the silent days. He too gives one of his best performances.
Robert Wilke also has one of his best roles, and also handles it beautifully. So often all he is allowed to do is walk on and get shot. Here his character is very integral to the entire plot. And, again, he shows he was very capable of more and bigger roles. (In our one conversation, he never expressed any regrets about his career. He might have been content or even happy. His auto license plate read, if I have the spelling right, "VILLEN." He was one of the best and one of the busiest of them.)
The writing and directing were good, if not perfect, and the only criticism I have is of the costuming. Even most of that was good, but one of the characters wore a Fredericks bra, which was popular in that era of film-making but actually deformed the female figure. (Just imagine Madonna as she so often appeared on stage.)
Otherwise, well, "Cow Country" is good enough for me to rate it a 9. I highly recommend it.
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