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Broken Lance Reviews

On the day of his release from prison, Wagner recalls the events that led to his imprisonment. Years earlier, his proud and stubborn cattle baron father, Tracy, led a raid on a copper mine that was polluting the water on his land, threatening the welfare of his stock. Although his father had always treated him and his three brothers, Widmark, O'Brian, and Holliman, as nothing more than ranchhands, never showing them sympathy or understanding, Wagner claimed responsibility for the raid to save Tracy, whom he really loved. Now, Wagner returns to the ranch intent on punishing his brothers for rebelling against Tracy, precipitating a fatal stroke. Wagner's mother, Jurado, persuades him not to go through with his plan for revenge, but the twisted Widmark forces him into a fight. In the struggle, Widmark is killed, and Wagner regains control of the ranch. A western reworking of Joseph L. Mankiewicz's HOUSE OF STRANGERS, BROKEN LANCE succeeds in capturing the brutal intensity of a disrupted family. Tracy is marvelous as the hardened father who, while saddened by civilization's intrusion in the West, is determined to instill the hard-working, fighting spirit of the pioneers into his sons. His inability to express emotion creates dissension in the sadistic Widmark but generates respect from the understanding Wagner. As the opposing sons, Widmark and Wagner do very well. Director Dmytryk uses his CinemaScope compositions to convey the vast beauty and imposing qualities of the land, nicely balancing the turmoil within the comparatively insignificant family. Winner of the Best Story Oscar for 1954, and Jurado earned a Best Supporting Actress nomination.