6.6/10
1,260
22 user 9 critic

Tribute to a Bad Man (1956)

Passed | | Drama, Romance, Western | April 1956 (USA)
With no law within 200 miles horse rancher Jeremy Rodak runs his spread with an iron hand and deals with rustlers even more ruthlessly.

Director:

Robert Wise

Writers:

Michael Blankfort (story), Jack Schaefer (short story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Cagney ... Jeremy Rodock
Don Dubbins ... Steve Miller
Stephen McNally ... McNulty
Irene Papas ... Jocasta Constantine
Vic Morrow ... Lars Peterson
James Griffith ... Barjak
Onslow Stevens ... Hearn
James Bell ... L.A. Peterson
Jeanette Nolan ... Mrs. L.A. Peterson
Chubby Johnson ... Baldy
Royal Dano ... Abe
Lee Van Cleef ... Fat Jones
Peter Chong Peter Chong ... Cooky
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Storyline

Jeremy Rodock is a tough horse rancher who strings up rustlers soon as look at them. Fresh out of Pennsylvania, Steve Miller finds it hard to get used to Rodock's ways, although he takes an immediate shine to his Greek girl Jocasta. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Cagney in his greatest role! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Western

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Spencer Tracy was cast as Jeremy Roderick but was replaced by James Cagney, as he complained and procrastinated about working on that location because of the altitude of the Rockies. This essentially resulted in his being fired from MGM, his home studio since 1935. See more »

Quotes

Steve Miller: [Upset at Mr. Rodock after witnessing Rodock's hanging of a horse thief - an impromptu "frontier justice" hanging, done without benefit of a formal trial] Maybe I ain't hard, maybe that's why. But Mr. Rodock, you didn't have to hang him.
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Crazy Credits

And Introducing Irene Pappas See more »

Connections

Featured in Down on the Farm with James Cagney (1955) See more »

Soundtracks

Rough Wrangler
Written by Stan Jones
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User Reviews

 
Cagney's Bad...and That's Good!!
8 November 2006 | by ashewSee all my reviews

Since, by and large, this is a forgotten film, I wasn't expecting too much when I sat down to watch it. I was stunned to find a throughly enjoyable film. Fair warning: This is not a shoot-em-up Western...it is a human drama with one fist-fight, one gun battle, one hanging, and some (well-deserved) torture of the bad guys.

Evidently, I am a bad man...because I couldn't find one thing wrong with the way the Cagney character went about his business. He was strong, fair...and brutal ONLY when he had to be. Yes, that brutality would have been unforgivable if there was a sheriff or other body of law close-by, but the movie makes the point repeatedly that there is no law for 200 miles in any direction. When there is a vacuum, or void, one must fill it. What the Cagney character does is fill that void with the mandatory strength and frontier justice required for the situation. What he did does not work in today's society, but they weren't living in today's society, so one must take the philosophy in context of the times. He was not an unfair man, or brutal for the fun of it...he was brutal in order to punish the guilty who were there to steal from him...to steal his property, his livelihood, and also those who would try to steal his woman. Personally, I think if there was a bit more justice Cagney style, we wouldn't have nearly the level of crime we do today.

Even with regard to how he treats the Irene Papas character, I didn't see great fault with the man. Yes, he put off marrying her because he had issues, but virtually every scene they had together he was showing her some sort of affection, or enjoying her company...and never in a perverted "I own you" kind of way, but you could see in his face how deeply he cared for her. The drama arises from his determination to hang those who would steal his horses from him, and the Papas character's revulsion by it. Other than that, they clearly love each other.

Robert Wise does a masterful job with the directing...this is a gorgeous film. Whether it's one of the massive Cinemascope shots, or an intimate two-shot in a barn at night, everything is just beautiful.

The acting throughout is quite good, with Irene Papas absolutely phenomenal in her central role. Cagney, with only one or two over-the-top moments, is outstanding as the tough-shell-tender-center rancher who must keep an entire world together...land, men, women, and cattle. He was an actor who could do more with a guttural sound than he could with a paragraph of dialogue. He has some brilliant moments in this film. Don Dubbins is perfectly cast as the "soft" Easterner trying to make it as a horse wrangler. At first I thought I didn't like his acting, but I think it was actually the character he was playing that I didn't like...a bit too meek for my taste...but that was the character written, so he must have done a good job if I believed it enough to not like it. My only real complaint is that there's not even close to enough screen time for Chubby Johnson, Lee Van Cleef, and Royal Dano.

The weakest part of the film is probably the script, which is decent, but not great. Fortunately, they hired top named actors for leads and support, and they infused the movie with a lot that wasn't on the page.

Overall, an enjoyable Western that is well worth a viewing. 8 out of 10 from me for the great Cagney and Papas, plus the brilliance of Robert Wise's direction.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

April 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Jeremy Rodock See more »

Filming Locations:

Montrose, Colorado, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,846,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)| 4-Track Stereo

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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