Tag Archives: Anthony Mann

XL Popcorn – Winchester ’73

So, over Christmas 2020 the COVID-19 entered my household. These posts are those that had to be written up later because being at the computer for more than 15 minutes made me feel beyond tired. I can cook, but I can’t type – it’s very strange. Still, these posts were done well after the fact so apologies in advance.

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 888/1009Title: Winchester ’73
Director: Anthony Mann
Year: 1950
Country: USA

The idea of seeing Jimmy Stewart in a western was not exactly new when Winchester ’73 came out in 1950. He’d already appeared alongside Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again, but that was 11 years earlier. In Winchester ’73 he is no longer the new sheriff with a romantic interest, rather a hardened man on the trail of a man he wants to enact vengeance on.

With it’s release in 1950 Winchester ’73 marked the beginning of the Golden Age of the Western – something that is weird to me as I am actually drawing to the end of the westerns on the 1001 list and my favourite western (The Ox-Bow Incident) was released seven years prior. Still though, Mann was one of the key directors of this era and I think that this is the superior film to The Naked Spur – another of his films on the 1001 list.

At the centre of this film are two main threads – the possession of a much sought-after gun (the titular Winchester ’73) and the chase made by Jimmy Stewart’s character to find and kill Dutch Henry Brown. In a country that still has such a love affair with guns, it is interesting to see it manifest in a film like this where there is a gun so sought after that is passes through multiple hands to the point where people kill for it.

There is some excellent character work throughout this film (although a young Rock Hudson in redface was a bit of a bad moment) with a very early appearance by Tony Curtis, who had yet to shorten his stage name. A personal favourite of mine was the rather short-lived gun dealer we meet fairly early in the film who becomes the third of many owners of the gun. Something about how matter of fact he was, just made me giggle.

Knowing that Jimmy Stewart’s career was revitalized by this, and it would help lead him to less lovable roles like in Anatomy of a Murder and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, makes this an interesting film to watch as a fan of his. Seeing this will also help put the remaining westerns into better context – especially the other Anthony Mann one.

XL Popcorn – Steamboat Bill Jr. / The Naked Spur

So, guess who has their wrist all strapped up because of an inflamed tendon. That’s right, it’s me. For an office worker, blogger and gamer this is pretty crap!

ohmywrist

This means time off work to rest my wrist and time to catch up on movies whilst answering queries remotely when possible. Still, it’s meant a lot of movie watching has happened.

As I cannot use my right hand I will be writing these film reviews using the voice recognition software on my laptop. So… dictated reviews it is. It took a month before I recovered enough for me to return to work – so I will be doubling up all film reviews and posting them everyday (otherwise we are looking at months of blog content here and I am already 5 months ahead).

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Title: Steamboat Bill Jr.
Director: Charles Reisner and Buster Keaton
Year: 1928
Country: USA

Continuing my run of silent movies is this classic from 1928. Buster Keaton is on top form as the dandy son of a grizzled river boat captain. To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of silent comedies. I tend to like my silent movies darker; like The Unknown.

However, I can really appreciate the stunts that Keaton performed in the “high wind” scenes. Especially the bit when the house fell on Keaton and he goes through the window. I cannot understand how one man could do all the stunts. As a story I felt it was pretty weak, but I can appreciate the work that went into it.

Title: The Naked Spur
Director: Anthony Mann
Year: 1953
Country: USA

One of the better westerns I have seen. Probably in part because of Janet Leigh and James Stewart. The setup is a classic of the western genre, a group of people who are accompanying their bounty back to the authorities and the paranoia that ensues.

The ending is a foregone conclusion from the start, however it doesn’t matter because the writing is far cleverer than your standard western. Plus, the interactions between the cast is truly believable. Especially the character of Tate. I do feel that the archetypal romance was a bit forced and that the ending was unbelievable. I mean, you go through all that trouble and then you just give up the bounty… What the hell!

Progress: 470/1007