Through the history of film there have been a few classic pairings of director and actor that have produced some out and out great films - Anthony Mann/James Stewart, John Huston/Humphrey Bogart, John Ford/John Wayne for example. I would humbly add Henry King/Gregory Peck to that list.
Though (as far as I know) they only made three films together, The Gunfighter, Twelve O'Clock High and Bravados, all three stand as some of the best work in the canon of either man, and all three were great movies that had that extra something that set them apart from the herd.
Contains spoilers. Bravados is one of those morally complex tales that Peck acted so well. Jim Douglas rides into town to witness the execution of four men he has never met. The men escape, and Douglas aids the posse to bring them in. But it turns out Douglas is determined that he will be the one to visit doom upon them, relentlessly hunting the four down. Along the way his back story, and the reasons for his pursuit and vengeance are slowly revealed, and we are rooting for the man as he does what is right. But in a final twist it transpires that he has no personal reason to hate the men he has killed, and he is left looking for redemption for what he has done in pursuit of his misplaced vengeance.
Peck brings a total commitment and intensity to the role of Douglas. It would be so easy to make yet another `Good guys/bad guys' western, but the examination of just what is right and wrong, with the possibility that the hero has made a dreadful mistake, really lifts this to another level. Fundamentally nice guy Peck displays all the qualities of the hero, and the anguish upon his realisation of his mistake, to a tee in one of his best performances. Look out for an excellent early supporting role from Lee Van Cleef as one of the bad guys. Most of the other supporting actors acquit themselves well, though none can compete with Peck on the screen. The weakest link is the over rated Joan Collins as a possible love interest, her character feels shoehorned in, and her performance is a bit uncomfortable.
This Studio Classics release from Fox is pretty good, with an excellent transfer and picture quality. I have been impressed with all the DVD's I have had from this range. Highly recommended purchase to those who like action and a bit of thought provoking. 5 stars.