"Yah, sure. You was yust doin' your yob!"
Just before riding off into the sunset of semi-retirement, B-movie specialist Lewis had one final ace up his sleeve; namely, an offbeat western that ranks amongst his finest work. Hayden is the returning Swedish seaman, rigid in his determination to get to the bottom of the circumstances surrounding his father's death. Brilliantly economical with scenes framed perfectly by a master bowing out with considerable style.
sterling hayden was a genuine seaman who had circumnavigated the globe several times before settling in hollywood and who always claimed he cared nothing for acting, only taking parts to finance his ships and voyages. he may not have killed any whales but he was quite a famous fisherman on the grand banks of newfoundland.
Masterpiece. Lewis offers an incomparable take on American class warfare in a mere 80 minutes, building his film from the ground up. Beginning with spacial clarity and relations (for example:the series of repeated shots that signify entry into the town), he progresses to evocations of the land and the settlers' connection with it, making the violence dealt against them all the more potent. "Terror" is an apt word choice, the film at times crossing from Western into Horror, played on faces. Narrative economy par excellence.
I'm not an apologist but Hayden's accent didn't bother me because of his presense, the fact that he nailed the character and the atmosphere of the film worked. Underrated western with unusually rich characterization for that genre in that era.
This is a kind of baroque pre - spaghetti western save the fact that it was shot in the U.S.A. and directed by a genuine American native. From the frenzied opening credits showing backwards the main scenes of the film to the final duel between a black-robed iron-handed (in the literal sense of the term) gunfighter and a Swedish whale hunter armed with a gig, this film is a masterpiece. Ja.