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Man of the West [Import]

Gary Cooper , Julie London , Anthony Mann    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Amazon.ca

Western auteur Anthony Mann and aging Western icon Gary Cooper team up in this stark tale of a trio of train passengers stranded in the middle of the desert after a railway holdup. Taking responsibility for his helpless compatriots (Julie London as a sad-eyed prostitute and Arthur O'Connell as a garrulous but cowardly banker), craggy-faced Link Jones (Cooper) takes them into a veritable viper's nest in a desperate gamble. It turns out the respected town elder is a former member of the outlaw gang that robbed them, and he's welcomed back by patriarchal gang leader Dock Tobin (Lee J. Cobb) like the prodigal son. The other bandits are not so forgiving but humor the old man while plotting to unmask Cooper as a devious traitor in a battle of wits and wills. Mann returns to his favorite themes of family and betrayal with a dramatic twist and wrenches up the jagged conflict with the most spare imagery of his career: the trio hiking down an endless horizon of empty track, a lone ramshackle shack on the arid plains, the desolate ghost town where Tobin's planned bank heist turns out to be a pathetic fantasy. Mann's taut direction creates a tension that hangs in the air like the sword of Damocles over the stranded travelers and explodes in cruel, raw violence. Reginald Rose (12 Angry Men) wrote the literate if sometimes overly symbolic script, and John Dehner, Jack Lord, and Royal Dano costar as Tobin's angry gang members. --Sean Axmaker

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Message for MGM: Why Pan & Scan? Dec 31 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
I recently saw a gorgeous widescreen print of this film on TCM. This grim, brooding tale of disillusionment in the old west, like Sam Fuller's "Forty Guns" one year before it, shattered many of the conventions of the Western and helped reinvent that genre, a decade before "The Wild Bunch" or Leone's "Man With No Name Trilogy". Yes, Anthony Mann's films are violent (his direction always exhibits a brutal directness), but the body count is much lower than in any John Ford movie I've seen. It's just that Mann understood that dead bodies are heavy, they have weight, and must obey certain laws of gravity. I don't think it was the killing that alarmed most people, but the effects of that killing, as both heard in the loud thud of bodies hitting the ground and as seen in the way men must writhe around and mix with the earth as they die. Though MAN OF THE WEST was filmed in glorious CinemaScope, the only version available on vhs is an abysmal pan&scan, which is particularly unacceptable in a picture that aims to express the distance between men, and the barrenness of the landscape, by dislocating much of the action to the extreme edges of the frame. This works only if the action is shown in wide angle, but MGM, unfortunately, has shamefully compromised Mann's vision. If TCM has access to a print of the film that preserves the proper CinemaScope ratio, why can't MGM release it on DVD in anamorphic widescreen? I highly recommend MAN OF THE WEST, but don't bother with this pan&scan vhs version.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Extraordinary Film March 20 2000
By Bill
Format:VHS Tape
MAN OF THE WEST is one of the greatest of all westerns. Dismissed for being too violent, too dark, too grim and downbeat when it first opened back in the fall of 1958, its reputation has been growing ever since. Unfortunately, the video available from MGM/UA is in pan-and-scan, and unless you see MAN OF THE WEST in letterbox, you aren't really seeing the film as it was meant to be seen. Turner Classics shows it in letterbox, so I recommend forgoing this video and waiting until TCM shows it in letterbox. Toward the end of his career, Cooper through off the shackles and took on several dark characters, characters deeply flawed and deeply wounded. Whatever the merits of some of these final films, Cooper's performances are stunning, at times even shattering. MAN OF THE WEST is one of those performances. The metamorphosis his Link Jones goes through shows just what range Cooper possessed as an actor. This film is one of the real champs.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Better than you might expect May 7 2004
Format:VHS Tape
This is not a typical "B" Western. Jimmy Stewart plays a man with a dark side, and a dark past for a change. He had about given up Westerns because he found himself playing parts that were too similar too often. This one was different.

Playing opposite Julie London, who played a saloon singer whose complaint was that everyone made passes at her, she fell into a situation (along with Stewart) where she was subjected to real brutality--tastefully handled. Lee J. Cobb played the heavy, and did his usual great job. Stewart was thrown back in with his old gang, from whom he had escaped once, and again was expected to rob banks and kill.

The story was good, and the acting was superb, as might be expected from such a cast. A dark, forboding film, which will hold your attention.

Joseph (Joe) Pierre

author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
and other books
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Film March 25 2000
By Chris
Format:VHS Tape
Man Of The West is a classic. Gary Cooper dominates a sterling cast with his powerful portrayal of Link Jones, a former killer who has long since suppressed the demons within. However, when he meets up with his Uncle and former partner, Dock Tobin (Lee J. Cobb, brilliant) he is forced to confront the fact that there is still a killer inside him. There is a brutal fight between Cooper and Jack Lord which is one of the meanest, most vicious fights I've ever seen in film. The only flaw, as others have pointed out, is that this video version is not letterbox. Avoid it and wait for TCM to show it in its original widescreen format. Better yet, why doesn't MGM/UA simply release a letterbox version? Cooper made this back-to-back with another classic, The Hanging Tree. But Warner Home Video has seen fit to remove it from distribution here in the U.S. It's available in Europe and Canada, but not here. Idiots!
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