Emblematic Western which conflates real with cinematic time reducing the genre to its bare essentials. As if announcing the 'end' of the genre Gary Cooper's retiring sheriff brings into the dusty atmosphere the fatigue and resilience of the hero whose duty to defend the town faces repeated disillusionments through the people's submission to self-interest. A self-abnegating hero in service of a community in shreds.
It's a perfect film. The pacing is perfection. What I like most about it is how it caused such an uproar when it came out. "Americans would never be cowards!" And of course being made in the 1950's it's an allegory on blacklisting, and the writer was blacklisted shortly after it came out.
The "a man has to do what a man has to do" subject is a bit old-fashioned today; but nonetheless, this a very important and influential film in many respects: e.g. regarding Dimitri Tiomkin's score, Floyd Crosby's camera work, the realtime narration or the political subtext.
My kinda film. Here it's not so much that the law prevails, but that the law has completely and utterly failed... The recently retired sheriff is now just an ordinary citizen making this, in many ways, a pro vigilantism movie. But in saying that, what it is condoning is the ordinary citizen standing up to thugs. Religion also utterly fails to protect the Cooper's lone wolf character...
Incredible. I did not realize that the plot would take place in (almost) real/reel time. The cinematography and editing maintain a gripping mood; you can just feel the suffocating, lazy summer heat. The performances are great from Jurado but also Kelly and Cooper from whom I had never seen anything. I am now interested in seeing more of Zinnemann's work, and also more Westerns (just not many from racist John Wayne)
"It's the most un-American thing I've ever seen in my whole life," said John Wayne. God, that delights me. Light years ahead of its time, indeed. Community and the law are a presented as a sham. Our pragmatic lawman is an implied agnostic, and his wife (the wonderful Grace Kelly) even shoots a guy and saves his ass. The HUAC nearly blacklisted Foreman for communist sympathies. Gorgeously shot, impeccably performed.
One of the all time great Westerns stars Gary Cooper as a small town sheriff, who on the day of his wedding and retirement, learns that a ruthless criminal he once put away is returning to settle a score. When the town refuses to help him, he must face the criminal and his gang alone. Expertly builds suspense as it plays in almost real time, aided by Tex Ritter's haunting ballad.