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Man of the West
IMDB Rating: 7.3/10 from 4,524 votes
Release: 1 November 1958 (Japan) /

Man of the West

Genre: Action, Drama, Romance, Western
Director: Anthony Mann,
Stars: , , , , , , ,
Synopsis: On his way to hire a schoolteacher, a homesteader is left a hundred miles from anywhere when the train he is on is robbed. With him are an attractive dancehall girl and an untrustworthy gambler and he decides to get shelter nearby from outlaw relatives he used to run with. They don't trust him and he loathes them but they decide he can help them with one last bank job. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

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Critic Reviews

It is not surprising that French film critics, such as Jean-Luc Godard rated "Man of the West" so highly in 1958/59. The film is a fine example of the so-called 'existential western'. Not unlike many films noirs from an earlier period, "Man of the West" has a purely existential hero. The Gary Cooper character, Link, is not wholly defined by what he has done (who he 'was'). When Link, Sam and Billie arrive at the supposedly abandoned ranch where he had previously lived, Billie asks "when you were a boy?". "I don't know what I was" is Link's very telling reply. This character is constantly in the process of becoming. He is defined only be what he will do, and not locked into the past or even the present. Link is the man "from West of here" as he tells another character. The West in this case can be seen as the land of 'becoming', that which is not yet defined by civilization. Through the destruction of the past (by way of the deaths of Dock, Coaley, Claude and the rest) he can achieve redemption.

Gary Cooper gives one of his better performances here, not exactly impressive, but appropriate for the role. Julie London may never have surpassed this portrayal, completely believable in every scene. Other supporters are beyond reproach. While Royal Dano can be singled out for a powerful characterization accomplished without speaking a word. Only in his final moments on screen does Dano utter a sound. This was a good year for Dano--he was a major standout in "Saddle the Wind" as well.

"Man of the West": one of the most intelligent, interesting westerns ever made.

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