An authoritarian rancher, Barbara Stanwyck, who rules an Arizona county with her private posse of hired guns. When a new marshall arrives to set things straight, the cattle queen finds herself falling, brutally for the avowedly non-violent lawman. Both have itchy-fingered brothers, a female gunmaker enters the picture, and things go desperately wrong.Written by
If you've never seen this film, I think you'll find it a bit different from most classic westerns. It's really more of a film noir, I thought, and I liked that angle. I say "film noir" because of feel. This western had stark black-and-white photography with tons of shadows and it had a dramatic scene near the end that was very noir-ish. I was very impressed with the ending, and that's all I will say as to not spoil it for others.
The DVD has the option of fullscreen or widescreen. Please consider the latter, because that is how it was presented: in "cinemascope," and you'll want to see photographer Joseph Birac's work in all its glory.
For Barbara Stanwyck fans, this might be a little disappointing because Barry Sullivan is the star of the film, not her, despite the billing. Sullivan plays "Griff Bonnell" and he is the principal figure in the movie, although Stanwyck's presence and character in the story are very strong as "Jessica Drummond." "Griff," along with his brothers, played by Gene Barry and Robert Dix, have more lines than Stanwyck, who doesn't even come on screen until 20 of the 80 minutes have elapsed.
All the characters are pretty interesting, however, no matter what their screen time. Those include some strange supporting roles, particularly two lawmen who don't sound and act like lawmen: Hank Worden's marshal role in the beginning and Dean Jagger's stint as the sheriff who has designs on Stanwyck.
To repeat, this is an odd story. I mean, how often does one see a tornado in the middle of a western movie? Some of the lines in here were quite profound, too, and some were uttered really stupidly. It's a curiosity piece, that's for sure.....but definitely worth watching if good photography and odd characters interest you.
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