Gunslinger Jacob Wade finds his long-abandoned son Riley, now a young man who hates his father but has nowhere else to go. Hoping to settle down, Jacob finds no town will have him. They end at Monolith, the ranch of Jacob's former girlfriend Ada, to whom he had no intention of returning. A mustang hunt finds Riley himself attracted to the shapely Ada...and Jacob having trouble with his eyesight. And his visions of a quiet life are doomed by the re-appearance of enemies from his past...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
With an on paper intriguing story and a cast that includes Jack Palance, Anthony Perkins, Lee Van Cleef and Elisha Cook Jnr. 'The Lonely Man' promised a lot. And it delivers a lot too luckily.
Have admittedly seen fairly little of director Henry Levin's body of work, but the little seen of him has left me somewhat indifferent. To me though, 'The Lonely Man' is among his better and more interesting films and is worthy of more attention than the not-very-well-known status it's garnered. Sure, it's not perfect and there are better westerns around but 'The Lonely Man' has a lot to recommend and has a few interest points (including Anthony Perkins in an early role pre-Norman Bates, him and Palance trying to out-smoulder each other and the Oedipal relationship between Riley and Ada).
The Oedipal relationship did feel underdeveloped and doesn't have anywhere near the passion and poignancy of the evolving father and son relationship between Jacob and Riley that dominates 'The Lonely Man'. Elaine Aiken does her best but is a little bland in a role that doesn't give her that much to do.
Occasionally, the general tightness of the pace loosens and becomes a little too leisurely and there are a few things in the story and supporting characters (King Fisher's allies also felt on the underwritten side) that could have done with more exploration and made sense more.
Conversely, 'The Lonely Man' does look great. The cinematography is truly beautiful on the eyes as well as being suitably moody, and the very natural and handsome locales are similarly well done. The music suits the atmosphere well, having a sweep and understatement. Levin's direction is efficient rather than the routine direction somewhat expected.
'The Lonely Man' is tautly written and sometimes has an offbeat tone, while the story is mostly very absorbing and there is a surprising amount of emotion. It is especially good in the father and son relationship, which has initial tension but once the truth comes out it's quite affecting and one roots for a redemptive resolution. The climax is one that had me biting the nails and had me feeling very sad about the outcome (see for yourself).
Perkins acquits himself pretty well in an early role, though he definitely went on to better things (including one of cinema's most iconic villains as Norman Bates in 'Psycho'), and Neville Brand is a formidable opponent with suitably heavyweight support from Van Cleef and Cook. The acting honours however belong to Palance, a powerhouse in a role that suits him to the ground and the type he should have done more of. It was really fascinating seeing he and Perkins out-smoulder each other but, while they work incredibly well, Perkins is no match for Palance in that department. Mainly because we're talking about an early career actor against one with one of the most intimidating physiques in "classic film/Golden Age film".
Overall, a well done and interesting different western that flaws and all should be better known. 7/10 Bethany Cox
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this