Mann's westerns revitalized the genre in the 1950s because they were derived from classic struggles inspired by such works as the Bible and Shakespeare. His westerns weren't just action-packed chases; they were adult dramas which illustrated the psychological and moral dilemmas regarding
the family, hatred, revenge, the land, and the nature of savagery versus civilization. In addition to being skillfully shot, acted, and scripted, Mann's westerns have an intelligence and a brutal conviction which compares well even with those by John Ford.
Will Lockhart (Stewart) leaves his home in Laramie, Wyoming, on a mission to find the men responsible for selling automatic rifles to the Apaches who killed his brother. He enters the town of Coronado, New Mexico, and soon learns that most of the territory is ruled by Alec Waggoman (Crisp), a
megalomaniacal rancher who has been waging war against rival female rancher Kate Canaday (MacMahon). The aging Waggoman must decide whether to leave his empire to his smart adopted son and ranch foreman Vic (Kennedy) or his crazed, vicious blood heir Dave (Nicol). While digging for clues, Will
comes between not only rival ranchers but also rival sons. Nobody gets out unscathed.
At the time of his death in 1967, director Mann had announced his plan to adapt Shakespeare's King Lear as a western (much the same way Japanese director Akira Kurosawa did with RAN). One can see that THE MAN FROM LARAMIE was something of a dress rehearsal for this project. Crisp, as Lear, frets
over the continuation of his empire and is blind to the fact that it is Kennedy who loves him most. His guilt over his ruthless life (and having turned his former lover into an enemy) cloud his mind and move him to make bad decisions that ensure his downfall. Violent but compelling stuff.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Mann's westerns revitalized the genre in the 1950s because they were derived from classic struggles inspired by such works as the Bible and Shakespeare. His westerns weren't just action-packed chases; they were adult dramas which illustrated the psychologi… (more)