My attendance at UCLA's terrific Anthony Mann Festival drew to a close with tonight's double bill of THE TALL TARGET (1951) and THE FAR COUNTRY (1954).
The series continues for one more night, with a March 30th screening of MAN OF THE WEST (1958) and THE TIN STAR (1957), but I'll be attending a double bill at the Noir City Festival that evening.
WINCHESTER '73 (1950) and tonight's Western, THE FAR COUNTRY (1954).
THE FAR COUNTRY "felt" very much like both WINCHESTER '73 and another favorite Anthony Mann-James Stewart Western, BEND OF THE RIVER (1952). It's "movie comfort food" at its finest, with an absorbing story, a great cast, and utterly fantastic location filming at Jasper National Park.
I liked THE FAR COUNTRY so much that I immediately ordered it on DVD in an inexpensive four-film set with BEND OF THE RIVER (which I only owned on VHS), NIGHT PASSAGE (1957), and THE RARE BREED (1966). It's also available as a single-title release or in a six-film set of Stewart Westerns. This is a film I know I'll want to revisit in the future.
Stewart plays Jeff Webster, who as the movie begins arrives in Skagway with his herd of steers; he's on his way to the remote gold rush town of Dawson, where he expects to make a small fortune selling the beef. He has trouble with wanna-be rustlers and especially a crooked judge, Gannon (John McIntire), who lays claim to the herd.
Webster and his partner Ben (Walter Brennan) take jobs guiding saloon owner Ronda (Ruth Roman) to Dawson, where she plans to open a new business. Webster also comes up with a plan to reclaim his steers and get them safely over the Canadian boundary line.
Gannon and his men arrive in Dawson and try to continue their crooked ways, forcing the townspeople to decide whether to give in or fight back.
My favorite thing about the movie was the beautiful locations; the Technicolor photography was by William H. Daniels, who did such a great job with the black and white vistas of WINCHESTER '73. It's one of those remarkable films where you can almost feel and smell what it was like to actually be standing there at the time the cameras were rolling.
And what a cast! There's at least one scene where Harry Morgan, Robert J. Wilke, Jack Elam, and Steve Brodie are all lined up in front of the camera, which made me happy in and of itself. There's also Corinne Calvet, Jay C. Flippen, Connie Gilchrist, Chubby Johnson, Kathleen Freeman, Royal Dano, John Doucette, and Chuck Roberson.
THE FAR COUNTRY was written by Borden Chase, who also worked on WINCHESTER '73 (1950) and BEND OF THE RIVER (1952). It runs 97 minutes.
Prior to THE FAR COUNTRY, what a pleasure it was to see THE TALL TARGET in 35mm! The print was lovely, and in 35mm I could appreciate all the more how beautifully filmed the movie is; the dim lamplight of this "up all night" story seems authentic and looks quite stunning. I especially adore the opening credits sequence, which uses train sounds rather than music.
Earlier films seen in this series: DR. BROADWAY (1942), which was paired with the previously reviewed TWO O'CLOCK COURAGE (1945); THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955), shown with the previously reviewed STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (1944); THE NAKED SPUR (1953), shown with the previously reviewed HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948); THE LAST FRONTIER (1955), seen with the previously reviewed STRANGE IMPERSONATION (1947); RAILROADED! (1947), shown with the previously seen DESPERATE (1947); RAW DEAL (1948), shown with the previously reviewed T-MEN (1947); and SIDE STREET (1950) and WINCHESTER '73 (1950).