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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A novel called "Jubal Troop" by Paul Wellman was the basis for a fine
screenplay by both Russell S.Hughes and director Delmer Daves for the
Columbia Pictures' stylish western JUBAL (1956). Produced for the
studio by William Fadiman it had all the skill and talent director
Daves had injected into previous and future western assignments such as
"Broken Arrow" (1950), "The Last Wagon" (1956) and his masterpiece "3
Ten To Yuma"(1957). Photographed by ace cinematographer Charles Lawton
Jr. on beautiful locations in Wyoming the imposing Grand Tetons make
for some amazing backdrops in many scenes. Seven years later Daves and
Lawton would return to the same stunning locations for the
spectacularly photographed Warner picture "Spencer's Mountain".
JUBAL stars Glenn Ford as Jubal Troop a wandering cowhand who is rescued from near freezing on a mountain trail by passing rancher Shep Horgan (Ernest Borgnine). The rancher takes him back to his spread where he is taken care of and revived. The next day Horgan offers him a job to the chagrin of another cowhand Pinky (Rod Steiger) who has taken an instant dislike to the stranger and even suspects that he could be a sheepherder ("he stinks of sheep dip"). Trouble really begins when Shep's new wife - the flirtatious May (Valerie French) makes a play for the new cowboy. Jubal - being too fond of and grateful to Shep - will have none of it ("you're the boss's wife" he tells her as he walks away from her). But Pinky's hatred and jealously of Jubal sees him plant the lie in Shep's head that his wife is having an affair with the stranger. A furious Shep unwittingly confronts Jubal with a gun in the saloon ("get up Jube or I'll give it to you where you sit") but with the help of his friend (Charles Bronson) Jubal manages to out shoot Shep but regretfully kills him. Pinky now has the reason to round up a posse and go after Jubal who has taken refuge in a pilgrim's wagon train. The picture ends with Pinky beating up May but before she dies she informs the attending doctor (Robert Burton) that it was Pinky's lie that caused all the trouble and not Jubal.
Performances are generally good throughout! Ford gives his usual dependable portrait of a likable western hero. Borgnine is good too in a big co-starring role after his Acadamy Award winning performance in "Marty" (1955) and Valeria French is excellent as the alluring and flirty wife. Wasted though is Felicia Farr making her debut in a syrupy and poorly written role as a pilgrim girl who takes a shine to Jubal. (She made up for it the following year when she and Ford were the brief bar-room lovers in Daves' brilliant "3 Ten To Yuma"). But the acting honours in JUBAL has to go to Rod Steiger as the mean-spirited and contemptible Pinky despite the actor's ill-advised use of a dubious southern accent. Others in the cast are likable bit players such as John Dierkes, Noah Beery Jr. and Basil Ruysdael. And holding the whole thing together nicely is the splendid music score by David Raksin. There is an infectious and jaunty main theme heard first over the titles and carried through for the early scenes. Then there is some exciting cues for the chase sequences and tender music plays under the picture's softer moments. The music from JUBAL is one of the composer's better scores.
JUBAL is a fine memorable western and a splendid addition to the great classics of the fifties.
is a perfect way to express how I feel about JUBAL. Director Delmar Daves
takes an outstanding Western cast & takes a Shakespearean tragedy, then
mixes the two elements. The result is not only one of the best westerns
the 1950s, but one of the best films of the decade, & one of the best
westerns ever. From the performance of the entire cast, to Raskin's
it's outstanding all around.
Don't miss this one. Just see it again & again.
This dramatic western is just what the doctor ordered. As fresh today as it was in 1956 when I was 2! The scenery alone is so impressive that watching Glenn Ford is just icing on the cake. These titanic actors really nail it on this film. I imagine the 'behind the scenes' horseplay was probably as good as what was captured on film. Ford is handsome as ever and decent down to his toes. Borgnine is a teddy bear that gets burned in the end. Steiger is the bad guy and is perfect for the role. A young Bronson in a small part shines. I watched this on the Western channel, which endlessly plays the same movies over and over. However I had never heard of this movie. Being a Glenn Ford fan, I figured that I'd at least watch the beginning. This film will not disappoint anyone who likes good writing, beautiful scenery and wonderful acting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When a Wyoming cattle king, Shep Horgan (Ernest Borgnine), receives
Jubal Troop (Glenn Ford) in his ranch, his presence arouses strong
emotions for his attractive young Canadian wife Mae...
Shep, a friendly good-natured husband and the best loved man in the territory, offers his help and trust to Jubal and names him his foreman... Shep was proud of the "sheep-herding friend" who got lost in the blizzard, and came over the pass from Montana, running from "bad luck."
Mae (Valerie French), a rancher's wanton wife, spins the plot by her attentions to the disinterested cowboy Jubal, which further stirs up the surly range rider (Rod Steiger) with whom she had previously been carrying on an affair, unknown to her genteel husband...
Truthful and straightforward, Jubal is caught between a loyal friend and an insistent desirous unfaithful wife who considers her husband's fine ranch a "10,000 acres of lonesomeness."
Mae was not in love with her unattractive husband... She thought she just picked the right guy to patch it up with... She even considered an evil plan in her mind... Maybe another affair, a new love, a murder...
One night, she went crazy... She lied to Shep telling him that Jubal was here in their room, in their bed... She yelled angrily in pain: "I'm sick to my stomach every time you kiss me. Let go of me. I hate you. I hate the way you look at me. I hate every single thing about you. I love him. Do you hear? I love Jube."
In that moment, Mae inflames a torrid fuse of sex, jealousy and revenge which make of Delmer Daves' "Jubal" a rather engrossing piece of adult entertainment...
Glenn Ford was honest in his feelings toward his boss ("Shep made me feel like somebody. Shep gave me a reason for living.") ignoring that he was caught in a net of lies, murder, and uncontrolled passions...
Rod Steiger was exceptional as the sadistic top hand who strongly disliked Jubal's gizzard... Pinky spots Mae's sights on Jubal... His jealous was so great as his strong sexual desire for the ex-lover...
In her film debut, Felicia Far was the radiant and beautiful as the little Rawhider responding to expert handling...
"Jubal" returned Charles Bronson to the West and to the company of director Delmer Daves, with whom he had made "Drum Beat." Cast as a ranch-hand friend of Ford's in the employ of Borgnine, Bronson contributes his natural masculine presence to this psychological Western...
Set against the mountainous fertile valley of the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, and beautifully photographed in CinemaScope and Technicolor, "Jubal" is a powerful adult Western in constant suspense...
Well you've got three men out at the Horgan Ranch, Glenn Ford, Ernest
Borgnine, and Rod Steiger. And you got two gals on the scene, Felicia
Farr and Valerie French. Valerie is married to Ernie, been fooling
around with Rod and suddenly drops Rod when Glenn arrives, having been
rescued by the Horgan cowhands. Ernie, who hasn't a clue what's going
on with Valerie, takes a liking to Glenn and makes the stranger his
foreman. Glenn in the meantime takes a shine to Felicia who's with some
kind of Mennonite group traveling west. Rod's upset because Valerie's
dumped him and Glenn already has a girl. And that sets the stage for
the later events.
This may be a glib synopsis, but this is a nicely photographed adult western with some themes not usually explored in the Saturday matinée shoot-em-ups. The whole cast fills their roles very well and among the supporting players, particular kudos should go to Charles Bronson as Ford's friend and Basil Ruysdael as the leader of the Mennonites.
This film was made in the afterglow of Borgnine's Oscar win with Marty and he was starting to get some good parts, not your standard movie thugs. It's also interesting to compare Ford, Steiger, and Borgnine playing three different types by three very different actors.
Delmer Daves directed many westerns and Jubal is probably his best. Everything went right in this film, the beautiful scenery, the music and the actors. Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, Charles Bronson and also two western old timers Noah Beery Jr. and Jack Elam. The story is also unusual, about Jubal, a man that always ran away from trouble, but decides not run any more. But circumstances turn against him when Mae (Valerie French), his boss's wife tries to seduce him. There is no way he can come out of it not scarred, we know that from a long time ago, from Joseph in the Bible. Also the woman he falls in love with, Naomi (Felicia Farr) is to be wed to another man. This is one of the rare times when I enjoyed a film (in DVD with widescreen and great colors) more than when I saw it for the first time in 1956.
This western is a rewarding film that has a great cast and the wonderful scenery of Wyoming's Grand Tetons. The tragic elements of high drama are here in this solid adult western where a wife's unhappiness and flawed values conspire to make an innocent man a fugitive from justice. Glenn Ford is the traditional western cowboy, a man of strength, toughness, and character who becomes a trusted ranch foreman while spurning the advances of an amorous but insecure married woman. Ernest Borgnine, Rod Steiger, and Charles Bronson are great in this film. Felicia Farr and Valerie French are also excellent in romantic angles as women with very different approaches to relationships with men. This western deserves greater popularity than it has received.
I love discovering old films that I'd never seen before. It's as if the
stars became young again or alive again and made another film just for
me. Glenn Ford, Rod Steiger, Charles Bronson, Jack Elam and others are
gone now, (and I haven't seen Ernie Borgnine in anything in
years-although he's still working per the IMDb), but there they are in
a very fine wide-screen western from 1956.
The Western hit a peak in the 1950's. In the pre-war period, it was a specialty genre that was mostly for juvenile audiences with singing cowboys and such. Occasionally there was an historical epic. What was missing were A-level pictures with top stars, strong stories and good production values. When John Ford, after several years doing other types of films, returned to the Western with "Stagecoach" in 1939 that began to change. He and Howard Hawks and others proved the Western could be a major adult genre that major stars would want to be a part of. By the 50's every major star and most of the top directors did westerns on a routine basis. There must be three dozen 50's westerns that are at least three star movies on a scale of four and Jubal is certainly one of them. The era ended when the adult western on TV started giving people for free what they were getting on the big screen. Then the times changed and westerns started to seem passé'. Looking at the really good ones from this era shows us what we've lost.
Still, despite the quality of this film, you can't help but think of other films as you watch it. There's the Grand Teton scenery, reminiscent of the greatest of all westerns, Shane. The story is alternately out of Othello or maybe the Bible, whatever you prefer. Rod Steiger is basically playing the same character he did in the previous year's Oklahoma. But the thing that really jumped out at me is that here we have the two Marty's. Steiger played the Bronx butcher in the original 1953 teleplay and Borgnine won an Oscar for it in the 1955 film. He's picked it up on 3/21/56, two weeks before this film opened. One wonders how Steiger, who surely wanted the role, and Borgnine, who got it, got along with each other during the filming of Jubal. They even have a fist-fight scene. But they were two professional actors playing roles other than Marty, so it probably made no difference.
Actually, the roles they play kind of parallel their performances as Marty. Steiger in most of his roles is a tortured introvert. Borgnine is a misunderstood extrovert. That's how they played Marty and that's how they play their roles here. It fits the story like a glove. There's even several references to how Valerie French finds him ugly and repulsive. Maybe he should have married Clara, (the girl from Marty).
Othello out West. Delmar Daves' great and unjustly neglected western
finds Glenn Ford's title character falling prey to ranch-hand Rod
Steiger's Iago-like jealously when Ernest Borgnine's Othello-like
father figure picks him as his foreman and surrogate son. Throw in the
machinations of wife Valerie French who has the hots for Ford and it
isn't difficult for Steiger to convince Borgnine that there's something
If Shakespeare's play is the blueprint, Daves' film is suitably complex in its own right and if Steiger displays a tendency to chew the scenery as he was wont to do, both Borgnine and Ford are outstanding, with Ford in particular proving something of a revelation. He has a terrific scene with Felicia Farr in which he describes his appalling childhood and how it made him the man he is. It's also magnificently photographed in cinemascope by Charles Lawton Jr; the exterior scenes are often breathtaking while the interiors use the widescreen to superb spatial effect.
JUBAL takes about forty-five minutes to set up its tale of revenge and
murder and lust in the dust, but once the plot gets into high gear it
becomes highly watchable until the conclusion.
GLENN FORD is an unhappy man on the run who's taken in by rancher ERNEST BORGNINE and his wife VALERIE FRENCH, earning his pay as a helper and suddenly promoted to foreman, much to the annoyance of ROD STEIGER, who wanted the job and also has his eyes on Borgnine's wife.
Ford spends most of the story trying to fend off the advances of Valerie French, who turns out to be a real Jezebel creating trouble between Ford and Borgnine when she makes her hubby believe the lies that jealous Steiger has told him. Before you know it, Ford is in deep trouble with nowhere to run except to seek the help of some peace loving pioneers on a wagon train, and a woman (FELICIA FARR) who wants to help him fight injustice.
Delmer Daves directs the actors through their paces with skill, except that he allows ROD STEIGER to chew too much of the scenery. Steiger struts about as if he's still playing Jud in OKLAHOMA! and never lets up for a moment being a nasty, snarling, cowardly villain. He's so despicable you can't help hating him.
On the other hand, CHARLES BRONSON shows considerable skill as Ford's friend, a gunslinger who saves Ford's life at a crucial moment. The film starts off a little too slowly before it gets to the mid-section where things really start to heat up. From then on, it's a top-rate western with strong performances from most of the cast.
Borgnine may be playing a "nice guy" for a change, but he's still obnoxious and boorish in his behavior and he sometimes overdoes the hearty laughter. His admission that he knows nothing about women or how to treat them, reminds me that "Marty" had the same problem.
Summing up: Good western, excellent photography, nice scenery and one of Glenn Ford's most underrated performances.
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