Directed by Anthony Mann
Well, I suppose it is back to business with Man of the West. On first glance, it seems like this is just the typical western. Gary Cooper is a reluctant hero in an Anthony Mann western (Mann makes some fun westerns but they are never exactly original). However, this movie was extremely different from what I was expecting and after getting used to formulaic 50s westerns, I was quite scandalized.
Gary Cooper goes on a train to try to find a school teacher for his town. The train is robbed and he is left stranded with a tough broad and a kooky old-timer. They walk until they reach a farmhouse, which is occupied from a gang from Gary Cooper's past. Will he revert to his old villainous ways? Will he become the hero that is inside him? Will I continue to annoyingly ask you questions in this cheesy manner? Watch the film to find out A and B!
Now, the above plot summary does not seem very outrageous. However, there are several undressing scenes that are quite disturbing. And, like it any western, men shoot each other, beat each other up, and spit a lot. In this film, though, there was a lot of focus on the innocent victims of stupid men, whose only real power lies in their guns. Anything else I say would be considered a spoiler, so I will stop there.
I do have a couple of problems with the movie. I think Gary Cooper was getting just a little too old to be starring in this movie. I am not saying older men don't have a place in the movies, but Cooper was fifty-six when he shot this movie. He not only was playing the love interest of a woman who was twenty-five years younger than him, but was also physically besting men who were twenty years younger than him. I do like him as an actor but maybe this role just wasn't for him.
I also wish the ending was different but again, there are no spoilers here.
Overall, still worth a watch but definitely not one of my favorites. I can see, though, how this could have been an influence on Leone or Clintwood westerns.
James Stewart wanted the lead role but because he had a fight with Mann, he did not get it.