Blaise Starrett is a rancher at odds with homesteaders when outlaws hold up the small town. The outlaws are held in check only by their notorious leader, but he is diagnosed with a fatal wound and the town is a powder keg waiting to blow.
On his way to hire a schoolteacher, a homesteader is left a hundred miles from anywhere when the train he is on is robbed. With him are an attractive dancehall girl and an untrustworthy gambler and he decides to get shelter nearby from outlaw relatives he used to run with. They don't trust him and he loathes them but they decide he can help them with one last bank job.Written by
Jeremy Perkins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Man of the West is a fine gritty western with Gary Cooper stepping into the James Stewart parts in those 50s Anthony Mann westerns.
Mann and Stewart during the 50s did eight films, five of them westerns. and some of the best westerns ever made. They were on the set of a sixth, Night Passage, when they quarreled and Mann walked out. I'm sure that both The Tin Star and Man of the West were properties that he originally developed with James Stewart in mind. But at least in this one Gary Cooper pinch hits admirably.
The key here is incest. Gary Cooper is former outlaw Link Jones trying to live his past down. He's on the way with his town's savings for a schoolteacher. The train is held up by the Doc Tobin gang and while he eludes them in the holdup, he runs into them later on when he's left behind by the train. These aren't just former outlaw compatriots, they're his family.
And what a family, the most frightening group of inbreds ever put on screen until Deliverance. From Lee J. Cobb on down, a lovely group of twisted psychos. Cooper is not just running from his past, but from his lineage.
The rest of the gang is Robert J. Wilke, Royal Dano, Jack Lord, and John Dehner. Lee J. Cobb is Doc Tobin and though he's 10 years younger than Cooper, he plays his uncle. Along for the ride are fellow train passengers Julie London and Arthur O'Connell. It's an admirable cast.
A real downer of a western, but a great classic.
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