Nineteenth century Wyoming: the wild West. Mild-mannered Tom Healy has a two-wagon theater troupe hounded by creditors because Angela, his leading lady and the object of his affection, constantly buys clothes. In Cheyenne, they meet with applause, so they hope to stay awhile: the theater owner likes Angela, and she keeps him on a string. She's also the object of the attentions of Mabry, a gunslinger who's owed money by the richest man in Bonanza. Complications arise and the troupe heads for Bonanza, through hostile Indian territory. Is the troupe doomed to a peripatetic life, is Mabry in danger, and does Tom stand a chance with Angela, a hellion in pink tights? Written by
Actor Ken Clark, a close friend of writer DeWitt Bodeen, brought Louis L'Amour's book to Bodeen's attention. Bodeen, a friend of director George Cukor, told him about the book, which Cukor read and was enthusiastic about. Bodeen was to write the script with L'Amour himself, but L'Amour wanted more money than the studio was willing to pay and was not hired. The final screenplay is signed Dudley Nichols and Walter Bernstein. Cukor thanked Clark by casting him as a soldier warning the traveling company about the presence of Indians in the area. See more »
The look alone is worth the trouble. Rich, colorful, slightly baroque. Sophia Loren is as good as when she's directed by a great actor's director, this time is not Vittorio De Sica but George Cukor and her timing, her intention as a character is total perfection. Her sympathy is not merely believable but contagious and sympathy was Loren's secret weapon. True, it's not your Ford or Hawks western if anything it's closer to Sergio Leone with a slightly more refined if not feminine sensibility. The showdowns here are not of gun powder but of love power. The Art Direction is superb and the film shouldn't be dismiss because it doesn't fulfill the rules of the genre. This is a Cukor film and that in itself makes it a cut above most movies. Anthony Quinn is also traveling unknown territory very successfully. Eileen Heckart is, as usual, a scene stealer: "She's only sixteen!, only sixteen, do you hear?" she shouts trying to protect her most valuable asset, her daughter, played by Margaret O'Brien wanting to be accepted as a 20 year old. An extra plus for film lovers is a glimpse of Ramon Novarro one of the biggest stars of the silent era.
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