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William A. Wellman
A family saga: In a stunning mountain valley ranch setting near Aspen, complex and dangerous family dynamics play out against the backdrop of the first big snowstorm of winter and an enormous panther with seemingly mythical qualities which is killing cattle. An arrogant, pitiless son (Robert Mitchum) and a rigid pharisaic mother side against a moral eldest son and and a defeated alcoholic father while the youngest son tries to lay low, hoping against hope to persuade his family to allow him to marry a girl he has brought to visit. The girl however draws venomous condemnation and the two elder brothers set out in the midst of a violent snowstorm on a dangerous mission to kill the deadly panther. Written by
Average Shot Length = ~10 seconds. Median Shot Length = ~9 seconds. See more »
They say the story takes place in Aspen Colorado but when they talk about the local area they are speaking of Pyramid lake ,the Fremont expedition and Placerville witch all of them are in California. See more »
While you might think that "Track of the Cat" is a western (as it's listed as one on IMDb), it really isn't despite its setting and look. Instead, it's more of a soap opera--a saga about a family that is sick to the core.
The film begins on a lonely ranch in the mountains--somewhere like Colorado or Wyoming about 1900. On this ranch are three brothers--Curt, Arthur and Harold (Robert Mitchum, William Hopper and Tab Hunter respectively). They live with the rest of their family--the father a spineless drunk, the mother a stern and nasty sort whose bile spreads to those around her (Beulah Bondi) and Arthur's wife (Teresa Wright). A guest (Diana Lynn) is visiting and Harold is lovestruck over her.
The home is disrupted when a mountain lion shows up and kills some cattle. Curt is determined to kill the animal--mostly to feed his ego. Arthur accompanies him on this task. However, when Arthur goes from hunter to the hunted, the true dynamics and sickness of the family becomes apparent through the course of the rest of the film. This is NOT a normal or healthy family, that's for sure! And, you also realize that the film really is a family saga that is at heart a soap opera--not a western. Now this isn't a complaint--just an observation about the genre to which this film should be identified. The locale and the mountain lion are just plot devices--the story is really about greed, the disintegration of a family and the decay of the soul.
The film is very strange to say the least. While Robert Mitchum is the lead, he really isn't in the film all that much and he plays a very atypical and unlikable sort. And, for the most part, the rest of them play against type as well, though Bondi did occasionally play nasty old matriarchs--and she's mighty nasty here. A particularly strange casting decision was having Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer play Joe Sam--an ancient American Indian though he was only 26 and not even remotely Indian-like under all that makeup! Add to that the beautiful full color and location shoot, it's obviously NOT a typical film but something very unique. William Wellman did a good job with this one--and the film is quite memorable, if not always pleasant! It's also one of the more unpredictable films of the era that I've ever seen, that's for sure! It's FULL of metaphorical significance and is, like some pointed out, almost like an art film--and a lot like "A Lion in Winter"! Well worth seeing but intensely strange--and a film, believe it or not, produced by John Wayne's production company! Not for everyone, but I sure appreciated and enjoy it.
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