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The Man From Laramie

In his eighth and final film with director Anthony Mann (The Glenn Miller Story, Winchester '73), Jimmy Stewart saddled up for what would be one of the best, 1955's The Man From Laramie. Stewart stars as Will Lockhart, a Wyoming man who travels to New Mexico to discover who sold repeating rifles to the Apaches — rifles that were used to slaughter a U.S. Cavalry patrol that included Lockhart's brother. But upon his arrival, he soon finds himself the enemy of the Waggoman family, who operate the massive Big Barb Ranch and don't like strangers poking around with nosy questions. Offered the hospitality of Kate Canady (Aline MacMahon), who owns the neighboring Half Moon Ranch, Lockhart refuses to leave town. Meanwhile, familial infighting soon takes its toll on the Waggomans, and particularly Dave Waggoman (Alex Nicol), the hotheaded scion who burned Lockhart's wagons and shot his mules, much to the displeasure of his father Alec (Donald Crisp), who must soon decide if he will hand control of the Big Barb to his only son or his top ranch-hand Vic Hansbro (Arthur Kennedy). The Man From Laramie is one of the best Westerns from the '50s, and one of the darkest. Mythic, almost Freudian, themes bubble just beneath the surface, and the brief moments of violence are unflinching (even the fistfights are realistic-looking wrestling matches). The Man From Laramie also predates Kurosawa's 1961 Yojimbo, with its enigmatic wanderer drawn between two feuding clans who both want to put him on the payroll so he doesn't make trouble. And like Yojimbo, the identity of the laconic visitor is never fully confirmed. As usual, the presentation on this Columbia TriStar DVD is outstanding. The source print is colorful and largely free of damage, making Mann's panoramic vistas of the New Mexico frontier that much more spellbinding. The audio is available in the original three-channel mix (in a Dolby Digital 3.0 configuration) or in a 2.0 Dolby Surround remix. Trailer, keep-case.
—JJB



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