Jim Douglas has been relentlessly pursuing the four outlaws who murdered his wife, but finds them in jail about to be hanged. While he waits to witness their execution, they escape; and the...
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Jim Douglas has been relentlessly pursuing the four outlaws who murdered his wife, but finds them in jail about to be hanged. While he waits to witness their execution, they escape; and the townspeople enlist Douglas' aid to recapture them. Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
While filming Gregory Peck decided to become a cowboy in real life, so he purchased a vast working ranch near Santa Barbara, California - already stocked with 600 head of prize cattle. See more »
The interior church scenes are of a magnificent, highly ornate, and vast - probably Metropolitan - cathedral. This is hardly in keeping with the small-town setting of the film. External shots do not show such a massive architectural edifice. See more »
This serious adult Western focuses on one man's fanatical pursuit of vengeance and played to near-perfection by Gregory Peck.
Gregory Peck is the show in "The Bravados". His performance reminds me of John Wayne in "The Searchers". In both cases the eyes tell the story. Wayne's were full of hate for the Comanches that defiled his niece. Peck's intense eyes are equally important to this film. In the words of one character, Peck has the "eyes of the hunter".
Like Wayne in "The Searchers" Peck is a man with a quest. Jim Douglas is out for revenge against the murderers of his wife. This single-minded mission brings him to the town of Santa Rita, where the four men he has been chasing are scheduled to hang for another killing. The men escape with a hostage and the chase resumes. Nothing will stop Douglas this time. In his mind the four men deserve no pity and they get none. The law failed to hang them, and now it's his turn.
The casting in this film is interesting. The four low lifes pursued by Peck include three pretty good actors, Stephen Boyd, Henry Silva and Lee Van Cleef. Of the three, Henry Silva's character is the most interesting. He plays Lujan, an Indian. Lujan and Peck share something. They lock eyes at the beginning when Peck visits the four men in jail. It is he who sees the eyes of the hunter. He may not know why Peck hunts them, but he recognizes him as a hunter.
Ultimately, Peck becomes a hero to the citizens of Santa Rita, but heroism comes with a price. In this case Peck sacrifices his humanity. In their end there is potential salvation for Peck from a surprising source.
Except for Lujan, the film provides little reason to sympathize with the four badmen. They have been sentenced to be hanged for a murder in Santa Rita. Steven Boyd ruthlessly shoots an old prospector. Later, he rapes their hostage. Even Joan Collins' character who earlier in the film has urged Peck to give up his relentless quest now urges him to track the surviving killers down and kill them.
There is no question about the morality in this film. There is something incomplete in Peck's character. He is empty inside, because the chase seems to be over. The law has apparently done his job for him. He has little to say to anyone when he arrives in Santa Rita, including his old friend Josefa (Collins). His eyes are full of hate, but otherwise he is hardly alive. He tells Josefa that he loved his wife. "I still do," he says. He has left his little girl behind to chase the killers. Near the end when he sees the little girl she hides behind her nanny. She hardly knows her father. The jail break and the ensuing chase seem to temporarily energize him. He becomes the leader of the possee. Ultimately, he rides off alone to extract his revenge. The energy is misleading. Peck knows what he must do and he does it without emotion. He has sacrificed his humanity at the altar of revenge.
This film is not for everyone. It is a bit intense, and Peck's character isn't very warm and fuzzy. "The Bravados" is a humorless film about a serious subject. Revenge isn't pretty and the price is too high. Peck really delivers with a great performance and the plot is definitely creative. The often told story of the man seeking revenge has seldom been told so well.
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