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", being an Anthony Mann directed western, contains a good deal of violence. Usually starring James Stewart, this one stars Gary Cooper in one of the best roles of his career.
The story centers on Cooper as a reformed outlaw who boards a train with Julie London as a saloon girl and Arthur O'Connell as a fast talking gambler. Along the way, the train is held up and the three are left behind. They stumble upon a shack that turns out to be the hide out of the men who had held up the train. Led by a slightly mad Lee J. Cobb, the gang includes Jack Lord as Cobb's sadistic henchman and veteran western performers John Dehner, Robert J. Wilke and Royal Dano as the other gang members. Turns out that Cooper had once been a member of Cobb's gang.
There is a violent fight between Cooper and Lord that is the highlight of the film. There is also an graphic (for the time) shootout in a deserted town and the ultimate showdown between Cooper and Cobb at the end.
Cooper was a little long in the tooth at the time to be believable as Cobb's protege (Cobb was actually 10 years younger), but that can be overlooked due to the excellent performances by both actors. London has little to do but O'Connell is excellent as the gambler who finds his courage.
"Man of the West" is arguably one of Cooper's best.
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