An intelligent and often tense western about the end of an era. Douglas is a wandering cowboy trying to keep ahead of the barbed wire encroaching the plains. He meets Campbell, a farmboy eager to learn the ways of a two-fisted cowboy. Douglas takes the lad under his wing, teaching him
everything from gunhandling to the unspoken laws of the West. Both are hired by Crain as ranch hands, but they do not realize that the woman is a conniving manipulator. She is intent on making herself a fortune by expanding her cattle herds at any cost, including range wars. Crain attempts to
seduce Douglas into helping her with this plot, but when she brings in some hired guns, the old-time cowboy up and leaves. Douglas' brother had been killed in range wars, and Douglas wants no part in Crain's battle. He ends up in a nearby town and renews a friendship with Trevor, a good-spirited
dance hall owner. Douglas begins to enjoy himself at the establishment and even sings a little ditty called "And the Moon Grew Brighter and Brighter" (penned by Jimmy Kennedy and Lou Singer) to the amused clientele. Meanwhile, Crain has hired Boone to do her bidding. The sadistic man will do
anything for his employer and goes after Douglas. After receiving a savage beating, Douglas realizes that the time for action has arrived. He organizes area ranches for a confrontation with Crain. Though successful in battle, Douglas nevertheless hands himself a significant loss. He has stopped
Crain's land grabbing but he also has done his part in closing off the open lands he so dearly loves. Leaving Campbell with a rancher's daughter the young man has fallen for, Douglas heads out West to continue his endless search for wide open spaces.
This was Vidor's last western, and the eminent director combined elements with excellent results. Though the story remains traditional for the genre, underlying tensions and themes are woven in throughout. Crain is a tempting siren, calling and devouring victims without mercy in an unspoken battle
between the sexes. This is one of Douglas' liveliest roles. He handles the part with a good mixture of bravado and humor as he struggles with his confused loyalties. His skills as a cowboy ring true, and even his banjo playing (a talent he acquired specifically for this film) works. Vidor was
quite impressed with Douglas' ability to throw himself completely into the character. Douglas would later play a modern age cowboy undergoing similar internal struggles in LONELY ARE THE BRAVE. This film was remade in 1968 as A MAN CALLED GANNON.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: An intelligent and often tense western about the end of an era. Douglas is a wandering cowboy trying to keep ahead of the barbed wire encroaching the plains. He meets Campbell, a farmboy eager to learn the ways of a two-fisted cowboy. Douglas takes the lad… (more)