Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1950. Wallis-Hazen. Screenplay by Charles Schnee, based on the novel by Niven Busch. Cinematography by Victor Milner. Produced by Hal B. Wallis. Music by Franz Waxman. Production Design by Henry Bumstead, Hans Dreier. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by Archie Marshek. Academy Awards 1950.
The title refers as much to the temperaments of its main characters as it does to the land upon which they live. Barbara Stanwyck is in fine form as the daughter of a gusto-defining rancher (Walter Huston in his final role) who has always run The Furies with power and might. She defies her father by courting an enemy (Wendell Corey) who has a score to settle with him, but she is far too headstrong to care about loyalty when it comes to her own passion. When the love affair goes sour, however, she plunges herself into the running of the land until a colourful widow (Judith Anderson, astoundingly good) comes along and threatens to take it all away. Stanwyck’s reaction, and the descent into vengeance and anger that follows, makes for one of the strangest and most captivating westerns ever made, a combination of fiery drama, some gruesome violence and even a showdown in the sunset. The Oscar-nominated cinematography captures all the glory and the grandeur of the story in this exceptional film by Anthony Mann.