It was quite fascinating to see Jimmy Stewart's transformation in westerns, from 'Destry Rides Again' to this one. I much preferred him in Destry as a non-violent man than this guy who's quite angry and violent and needing revenge. I suppose he probably was sick of being typecast as nice.
Exceptional western from Anthony Mann that gave new life to the box office power of the genre in '50 as well as new options for star James Stewart. Scripting is aces with the novelty of following an inanimate object to tell its fine tale of pursuit and revenge. Casting is good but the heavy lifting is left for Stewart. Good b&w photography by William Daniels.
Seen again yesterday after a 30 years break. It's about a search. Search for a brother, for a woman or for a rifle, Anthony Mann gives us the choice. Let's focus for once on the supporting roles, they are outstanding: Dan Duryea, Will Geer, Shelley Winters or Millard Mitchell. Highly recommended.
I was expecting Mann to break conventional racial attitudes. Well... he didn't. Possible subtext: the Winchester rifle as the mythical cult of violence? If we choose to read that way, the unquestioned racism (in casting and characterization) seems to reinforce the point.
Mann is probably one of the most fair directors in the american cinema. He never take side, he just show you the cruelty of the american history between indians and the white men. This film or in Devil's Doorway, he gives you what men shoot for and how many blood was shed. Of course there is an attempt to deny the white history and show who was the natives, still he didn't creat generalizations but concert acts.