Questions arise when a Senator returns to a small Western town to attend the funeral of a local man he once saved from a notorious outlaw who spread terror across the town. He reveals the truth behind his ‘good’ deed.
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One of the greatest John Ford Westerns. Examines in microcosm both the evolution of the Old West into the Modern West and the conflict between forthrightness and expedient acceptance of perceptions.
The all around great performances lend solid support to this parable of a maturing America.
Considered one of John Ford's great western masterpieces, it fails to live up to its reputation. It is a well-crafted effort, and does have a few strong moments - but its slow and dull much of the time, any resonance the story might have is drowned out by cartoonish characters and scenes that drag on and on. Not a terrible film, but it falls far short of the masterpiece it's been made out to be.
Perhaps Ford's most (only?) 'meta' film, where the quotation, "This is the west, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend", becomes a knowing critique of his own career-long approach to historical fiction. The bold, larger than life, exaggerated in the mind emphasis on characters and events works against the title, which sets-up an expectation of factual accuracy, betrayed by a lyrical, romantic approach.