After being released from prison, former gun-fighter John Wesley Hardin hopes to have his autobiography published in order to rehabilitate his tarnished reputation.After being released from prison, former gun-fighter John Wesley Hardin hopes to have his autobiography published in order to rehabilitate his tarnished reputation.After being released from prison, former gun-fighter John Wesley Hardin hopes to have his autobiography published in order to rehabilitate his tarnished reputation.
*** (out of 4)
Solid Western has John Wesley Hardin (Rock Hudson) walking out of prison and handing over a book with his life story in it. A publisher then reads the story, which starts as a young Hardin battles with his preacher father (John McIntire) and soon he's on his own and on the run from the law. If it's history you're after then you will want to stay away from this film as it turns the cold-blooded killer into a misunderstood, nice guy and the film even goes as far as to change a real-life ending (apparently test screenings didn't like the truth). With that said, if it's entertainment you're after then this here is a real gem as we get to see the young Hudson in his first top-billed performance. It was smart for Universal to surround him with some great character actors but to also put a veteran like Walsh on the film. We're dealt a pretty typical story in terms of Westerns but Walsh brings some nice style to the production and certainly keeps it moving a lot better than it deserves. One of the best moments in the film happens early on as Hardin is about to get in a shoot out with a large gust of wind blows dust all over the place making it hard to see what's going to happen. This was a wonderful little sequence as was the made up ending. What really keeps the film moving are some wonderful performances by the star-studded cast. Hudson is terrific in the lead role and you can view this and see why he would become a major star. The character has some dark moments, which the actor captures just fine but the sweet side is where Hudson really shines. He really does make this a complete character and makes Hardin someone to care for. Julie Adams plays the woman he eventually marries and does a nice job even though she doesn't have much to do. The Hanley family are the ones Hardin does battle with early on and we have Lee Van Cleef, Glenn Strange and Hugh O'Brian playing the brothers. McIntire, Forrest Lewis and Richard Garland also turn in fine performances. We even get a young Dennis Weaver in a small role. Once again, those who are wanting a history lesson are going to hate this film due to have many facts it twists and turns but either way, the movie is solid entertainment that has enough going for it to make it worth seeing.
- Jun 15, 2010