In Cagney's third and final western he is a tough rancher who ruthlessly guards his vast lands in the Colorado territory in the 1870s. Dubbins, a former grocery clerk from Pennsylvania who has come out West looking for adventure, is hired by the rancher to work as a hand. The naive easterner is shocked as Cagney captures and hangs cattle rustlers and forces...read more
In Cagney's third and final western he is a tough rancher who ruthlessly guards his vast lands in the Colorado territory in the 1870s. Dubbins, a former grocery clerk from Pennsylvania who has come out West looking for adventure, is hired by the rancher to work as a hand. The naive
easterner is shocked as Cagney captures and hangs cattle rustlers and forces horse thieves to hike barefoot through intense heat over the rocky terrain. Dubbins finds himself becoming attracted to Cagney's mistress, Papas. Despite having seen the warm, gentle, and caring side of Cagney, she allows
herself to fall for Dubbins, who is much younger than Cagney. Eventually Dubbins and Papas have had enough of Cagney's vicious behavior and decide to leave together. Realizing that his brutality has cost him the woman he loves, Cagney lets her go without a fight. Sensing that his reluctance to
seek revenge might mark a turning point in his personality, Papas returns to the rancher. Grateful for her faith in him, Cagney vows to become a more compassionate man and asks her to marry him. The film is beautifully photographed by Surtees and energetically played by Cagney, but the script by
Blankfort is bland and uninteresting, and the pace of the direction alternates between breakneck and sluggish. The supporting cast does well, particularly famed Greek actress Papas (in her Hollywood film debut), with Morrow, Dano, and Van Cleef on hand as some menacing rustlers. The production was
troubled from the start. Originally titled "Jeremy Rodock," the picture was to have starred Spencer Tracy and Grace Kelly. Tracy looked forward to working with Kelly, but the actress hated the role and refused to participate. When MGM imported Papas as a replacement, Tracy's enthusiasm waned as
well because he disliked the script, was unfamiliar with Papas and director Wise, and wanted to get out of his MGM contract in order to pursue his own projects, especially THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. Wise had a massive set built high up in the Colorado Rockies and then sat and waited for his star,
who showed up six days late without so much as offering an excuse. Tracy kept to himself, would disappear from the set when needed, and maintained an attitude of indifference toward the picture. Obviously looking for a way out, Tracy then demanded that the whole set be torn down and moved to a
lower elevation because the thin mountain air was bothering his health. Because he was one of MGM's biggest stars, the request was taken seriously. Director Wise had had enough, however, and the matter came to a head when studio vice-president Howard Strickling arrived in Colorado to settle the
matter. After much agonizing by Wise, Strickling, and MGM production chief Dore Schary, the decision was made to fire Tracy. Most of MGM was shocked that their star of more than 20 years had been given the ax. The offical reason cited was Tracy's "artistic differences" with director Wise.
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