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Sidney Franklin Jr.,
Carl K. Hittleman
Ted de Corsia
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Released from jail, John Wesley Hardin leaves an account of his life with the local newspaper. It tells of his overly religious father, his resulting life of cards and guns, and his love for his step-sister replaced on her death during a gun fight with that for dance-hall girl Rosie. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
It was made to a formula and revolves around most of the cliches in the Western handbook but it was hard not to enjoy this film.
It is based on the life of the famous Texan John Wesley Hardin. His youth was shaped by the Civil War and by his preacher father. When his father forbids him to practise shooting young Wes reckons its about time to leave home and seek his fortune. Almost immediately he kills a local gunslinger and plunges into the life of a rootin tootin cowboy, gambler and outlaw.
It has a classic opening a dignified man walking out of the prison gates, shaking hands with the warden and sniffing the air of freedom. It has an equally recognisable ending, back at the ranch to see how his wife and family have managed during the long years of incarceration.
The final scenes of the film are lovely, it won't spoil the film to say he learned from his experiences and lived a long and happy life.
There is nothing new in this film. Although it claims to be an autobiography, it is one of countless 1950's Westerns with a theme of a young man seeking adventure and finding redemption. The real strength of the movie is its star Rock Hudson, barrel chested and manly, who shoots, rides, kisses, gambles and drinks as well as any of his contemporaries. One of the baddies is a young Lee Van Cleef who easily steals scenes from his fellow wrong-doers.
It won't change your life, the way "Shane" might have done but it won't hurt you to watch it, and to remember Rock Hudson in the way he should be remembered.
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