Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Winchester ’73 (1950)
Lin McAdam (James Stewart) and Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally) both find themselves in Dodge City competing in a shooting competition. The prize is a Winchester Model 1873 rifle. But not just any Winchester rifle - this is a kind of Special Edition Winchester. President Ulysses S. Grant owns one of these very special Winchesters, and the Marshall of Dodge City (a guy by the name of Wyatt Earp) expresses the view that any man would give his right arm for this rifle.
There are a number of sub-plots involving some rather colourful characters. Lola Manners (Shelley Winters) is a saloon entertainer who is being run out of Dodge City at the time Lin arrives. Lin tries to do the gentlemanly thing and intervene to help a lady but to no avail.
The destinies of Lola and Lin seem to be strangely entwined. Soon after Lola hooks up with notorious outlaw Waco Johnny Dean (Dan Duryea), who just happens to be planning a bank robbery with none other than Dutch Henry. In fact the fates of all the major characters will converge as events move towards the final showdown between Lin and Dutch Henry.
As she so often did Shelley Winters goes very close to stealing the picture from Stewart. And like Stewart’s character Lola is rather ambiguous. She seems to be a woman of dubious moral reputation but she has considerable strength of character. She’s no shrinking violet but she’s no mere femme fatale either.
Anthony Mann directs with the energy and flair that he brought to his best movies in the film noir genre.
Winchester ’73 is a classic revenge western with some twists, superbly acted and it’s worth a look even if you’re not a big western fan. Highly recommended.