[box cover]

The Bravados

Jim Douglas (Gregory Peck) is itching to get into town because there's going to be a hanging — but his motives are his own. Four criminals are due to be hung, and he wants to witness it. The town is taken aback by Douglas's presence, but they accept him at first, thinking he's the hangman. However, the criminals escape and a posse is rounded up, with Douglas nominated as the leader. He knows best how to track the fleeing men, even going across the country's border to find the men. As it turns out, four men raped and murdered Douglas's wife and child, and he plans to exact revenge — fortunately for him, on the hunt he captures each man alone. Each of the accused reacts differently to their fate: The first, Alfonso (Lee Van Cleef), begs for his life, while one is willing to play Douglas's game. But all raise the question that he can't shake: What if they aren't the men? A taut yarn, 1958's The Bravados reunites its star Peck with director Henry King (among their six films together, the best were The Gunfighter and Twelve O'Clock High), and it's a small gem of a western. King has a no-nonsense approach that keeps the material lean and gripping, and Peck plays this sort of righteous indignation better than anyone. The film twists and turns well, although it does have a superfluous female character in Josefa (Joan Collins). That said, King was solid behind the camera, and he gets a great feeling of dread throughout, using the newer CinemaScope frame to his advantage. It's beautifully shot by cinematographer Leon Shamroy, who lends the color picture a muted, somber palette. Like The Gunfighter, The Bravados has a message that becomes evident the further the story goes along, one that acts as a motif (Peck was often attracted to films with strong subtexts). But the twists and turns of the story — which turn on questions of vigilante justice — leads to a body-blow conclusion. Since the screenplay is credited to Phillip Yordan (a known front for blacklisted writers), one wonders who was actually behind it; the script is based on the book by Frank O'Rourke. Fox presents The Bravados in both anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan transfers with Dolby Digital 4.0 audio. Extras consist of the theatrical trailer and two Movietone news excerpts (1 min.). Keep-case.

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