ANTHONY MANN’S WINCHESTER ’73 — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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One of my favorite Westerns and containing one of my favorite performances from James Stewart, the 1950 film Winchester ’73, from director Anthony Mann, is a hugely entertaining saga of cowboys and Native Americans and while not as thematically dense as some of the other genre efforts from that decade, still stands as a robust piece of escapism that has sturdy re-play value and a great sense of humor. Starring a terrific ensemble including Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, Millard Mitchell, Charles Drake, Will Greer, and with early performances from Rock Hudson, Tony Curtis, and James Best, the trigger-happy narrative centers on highly prized rifle and the various people who come into contact with it, with potent adventure subplots that up the excitement all throughout the fast paced 90-minute run-time. This was the first Western that Stewart and Mann would team up on, with the director taking over the film from initial director Fritz Lang, who left the project over creative differences with Universal Pictures. The witty and incident-packed screenplay by Borden Chase and Robert L. Richards (from an original story by Stuart N. Lake) never stopped for a moment, and with Stewart fronting the film with total gravitas and authenticity, the entire film is just too good to resist.

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