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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cooper at his best, 19 Sep 2006
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This review is from: Man Of The West [DVD] (DVD)
Anthony Mann made a string of superb westerns in the 1950's - Winchester 73, The Man From Laramie, The Naked Spur (my Favourite).Here he teams up with Gary Cooper who plays a reformed outlaw forced by circumstance to "re-join" his old gang led by Dock Tobin (Lee J Cobb in a crazed performance) to protect innocents he is travelling with. Cooper in keeping with his whole career gives a suitably noble and restrained performance (he was very ill at the time) with the passing of time etched through his every gesture.Watch out for an incredible fistfight with Jack Lord full of all manner of symbolism and mania. An excellent western.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Class Act Cooper !, 15 Sep 2007
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This review is from: Man Of The West [DVD] (DVD)
The first Western I saw as a youngster starred Gary Cooper, (The Plainsman - 1936- Cecil B. Demille) I've enjoyed the work of this actor ever since and now many decades after that initial encounter that pleasure remains.
This film is typical of a Cooper Western. Once again he does't have a lot to say verbally - he says what he has to say by his very presence, and a well controlled air of menace. Here he plays a former bad guy trying to be a good guy but unfortunately runs into some villainous former compatriots. (Some interesting appearances from his co-stars here, a terrific, crazy role for Lee J.Cobb and a good show from a young Jack (Hawaii Five-O) Lord among others.)
Cooper's loping, laconic, easy-going style is in many ways like that of John Wayne. Both actors appear to just play themselves whatever role they are taking in a movie, and I have no complaint on that score.
Gary Cooper played a variety of roles in his movie career but he will of course always be remembered for his part in 'High Noon', the film (with also perhaps Alan Ladd's 'Shane') that sums up the golden age of the Western movie.

Technically, 'Man of the West' has transferred well to DVD
with excellent colour saturation, sharpness and - surprisingly - a good soundtrack, although it is 2-track mono.
I'm happy to give this movie 5 stars because, at least for me, it achieves all I ask for in a film. Good acting, a good story and an hour or so of entertainment. This was almost Cooper's last film (he was ill during its production) and he managed to complete only a few more following a career total of over a hundred movie performances.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mann and Cooper at the top of their game., 6 Feb 2009
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Of The West [DVD] (DVD)
This very impressive Western based on the long forgotten book "The Border Jumpers" by Will C Brown was made by the respected director Anthony Mann in 1958. This was his penultimate Western with only the forgettable "Cimarron" to come in 1961. Mann was famous for the wonderful series of psychological Westerns he made with his favourite star James Stewart. But the two sadly fell out during the making of "Night Passage" in 1957, and didn't work together again. It is interesting to speculate that Stewart may well have got the Cooper role if he and Mann had still been on good terms. Certainly his practice with angst ridden heroes would have seved him well. But Cooper got the role in the twilight of his career. It was to be his final masterpiece although the same could not be said of Mann who went on to direct that glorious medieval epic "El Cid".

The story concerns an ex outlaw Link Jones played by Cooper who is forced to destroy his former accomplices by the very violence that he had sought to cleanse from his life. It is a deeply harrowing experience and Coopers features showed it. Only a few short years later Cooper was dead of cancer and he already looked like a dying man in this film. Gone was the youthful hero of the thirties. His performance is never less than impressive. Jones is forced to return to the former robbers nest where he grew up, after being left abandoned by the railway following a hold up. He is accompanied by a saloon singer (Julie London) and a tinhorn gambler Sam Beasley (Arthur O'Connell. The gang return led by the psychopathic Doc Tobin played with elan by Lee J Cobb. The other gang members are played by a suspicious John Dehner, a feisty Jack Lord, a wide eyed Royal Dano and that very underrated heavy Robert J Wilke as Poncho. They are all stellar support actors giving stellar performances. It is odd to see Jack Lord away from "Hawaii five O" in an unfamiliar guise. The gang becomes increasingly violent as Jones stalls for time and it leads to a bloody climax.

Make no mistake this is one of the great Westerns. I feel it was the finest film Mann made, which is a very bold claim given his glittering career. Although largely ignored on its release it was noted by that famous film director and critic Jean-Luc Godard who rated it very highly. Who am I to argue with that respected cinematic icon. This is a fine film in any genre which deserves wider acclaim. I can only hope that this minor review will have helped to do that. Highly recommended viewing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Gary Cooper Series ... Man of the West (1958) ... United Artists", 25 Sep 2008
By 
J. Lovins "Mr. Jim" (Missouri-USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Of The West [DVD] (DVD)
United Artists presents "MAN OF THE WEST" (1 October 1958) (99 mins/Color) (Dolby digitally remastered) -- Our story line and plot, On his way to hire a schoolteacher, a homesteader (Gary Cooper) is left a hundred miles from anywhere when the train he is on is robbed --- With him are an attractive dancehall girl (Julie London) and an untrustworthy gambler (Arthur O'Connell) and he decides to get shelter nearby from outlaw relatives (Lee J. Cobb) he used to run with --- They don't trust him and he loathes them but they decide he can help them with one last bank job --- The rest of the gang is Robert J. Wilke, Royal Dano, Jack Lord, and John Dehner. Lee J. Cobb is Doc Tobin and though he's 10 years younger than Cooper, he plays his uncle. Along for the ride are fellow train passengers Julie London and Arthur O'Connell --- It's an admirable cast --- Jack Lord as a wild and rebellious killer, John Dehner as a cool but equally violent person, Lee J. Cobb as a filthy old man who was the leader of the gang and who surely was the example for the other gangmembers and Arthur O'Connell and Julie London as the innocent bystanders who Cooper must look out for --- Also thought that the content and violence was very well done to help people get the feeling of what people could be like --- All in all, "Man of the West" is not only one of Cooper's best but one of the best westerns ever --- Anthony Mann's final foray into the western genre is a disturbing examination of man's baser instincts, rising in intensity to the level of Shakespearean tragedy.

Under the production staff of:
Anthony Mann - Director
Walter Mirisch - Producer
Will C. Brown - Book Author
Reginald Rose - Screenwriter
Ernest Haller - Cinematographer
Leigh Harline - Composer (Music Score)
Victor Heerman - Editor
Richard V. Heermance - Editor
Hilyard M. Brown - Production Designer
Edward Boyle - Set Designer
Yvonne Wood - Costume Designer
Jack Solomon - Sound/Sound Designer
Emile LaVigne - Makeup
Richard Moder - First Assistant Director

SPECIAL FEATURES:
BIOS:
1. Gary Cooper (aka: Frank James Cooper)
Date of Birth: 7 May 1901 - Helena, Montana
Date of Death: 13 May 1961 - Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California

2. Anthony Mann (Director)
Date of Birth: 30 June 1906 - San Diego, California
Date of Death: 29 April 1967 - Berlin, Germany

the cast includes:
Gary Cooper ... Link Jones
Julie London ... Billie Ellis
Lee J. Cobb ... Dock Tobin
Arthur O'Connell ... Sam Beasley
Jack Lord ... Coaley
John Dehner ... Claude
Royal Dano ... Trout
Robert J. Wilke ... Ponch (as Robert Wilke)
Frank Ferguson ... Marshal of Crosscut
Tom London ... Tom, Henry's Friend

Hats off and thanks to Les Adams (collector/guideslines for character identification), Chuck Anderson (Webmaster: The Old Corral/B-Westerns.Com), Boyd Magers (Western Clippings), Bobby J. Copeland (author of "Trail Talk"), Rhonda Lemons (Empire Publishing Inc) and Bob Nareau (author of "The Real Bob Steele") as they have rekindled my interest once again for B-Westerns and Serials --- If you're into the memories of B-Westerns with high drama, this is the one you've been anxiously waiting for --- please stand up and take a bow Western Classics --- all my heroes have been cowboys!

Total Time: 99 mins on DVD ~ United Artists ~ (5/13/2008)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classy western, 4 Mar 2012
By 
S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Man Of The West [DVD] (DVD)
I watched this for the first time last night, and wonder how I've never managed to see it before, as this is a superb western, which may even justify 5 stars after another viewing.

Gary Cooper fits the leading role perfectly. The part could have been specially written for him, but it wasn't, yet he makes it his own. He plays Link Jones a reformed man with a violent past who is caught up in a Train heist. There is a stillness to Coopers acting that reminds me of Clint Eastwood, even though in many other ways they are completely different. In fact the cast as a whole are very good. An almost unrecognisable Lee J Cobb is teriffic as Doc Tobim and Julie London does more than add some glamour to proceedings.

Anthony Mann directs with an effortless economy, not a shot is wasted, and this is helped by the fact that the film is only 95mins long. The DVD is in the proper widescreen ratio and the picture quality is good. I can't think of a reason not to buy this, at any price, let alone when its available as cheaply as it is now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Intelligent Western from Anthony Mann., 15 April 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Man Of The West [DVD] (DVD)
Link Jones is on his way to Fort Worth to hire a schoolteacher, having left his wife and children behind, Link appears to be the epitome of the simple honest man. However, the train he is on is robbed by outlaws, thus meaning that Link's past and his dubious family ties are all careering towards a day of reckoning.

This was Anthony Mann's second to last foray into the Western genre, and perhaps his most clinical as regards a structured tale of men as complicated as they are conflicted? I always find with Mann's Westerns that a sense of doom hangs heavy, there are very few directors in Western cinema history who have this knack of filling the viewer with such a pervading feeling of unease. Here we have Gary Cooper as Link, on the surface an amiable man, but the sequence of events see him thrust back into a life he thought had long since gone, the term that a leopard never changes its spots sits rather well, but here we find Mann fleshing out his lead character with an acknowledgement that a former life has passed, with Cooper perfectly transcending this well scripted arc.

What strikes me mainly about this piece is that Mann's characters are not the quintessential good vs bad characters, these are just men with their own individual hang ups, they all are fallible human beings, and that is something that surely we all can identity with? The acting across the board here is top notch, Cooper is excellent, replacing Mann's stock Western muse, James Stewart, he cements his earthy and identifiable worth wholesale. Lee J. Cobb actually is the glue that holds the film together, his portrayal of Dock Tobin perfectly plays alongside Cooper's emotive showing of Link Jones's confliction. Sadly a negative to me is that we are asked to believe that Gary Cooper is Lee J. Cobb's nephew, a difference of ten years has to be a casting error one feels. Still the film comes highly recommended, the intelligence and dark atmosphere of the piece makes it well worth a viewing, whilst Cooper's two main fights {both different} are seriously great cinema. 8.5/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mann and Cooper at the top of their game., 5 April 2009
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This very impressive Western based on the long forgotten book "The Border Jumpers" by Will C Brown was made by the respected director Anthony Mann in 1958. This was his penultimate Western with only the forgettable "Cimarron" to come in 1961. Mann was famous for the wonderful series of psychological Westerns he made with his favourite star James Stewart. But the two sadly fell out during the making of "Night Passage" in 1957, and didn't work together again. It is interesting to speculate that Stewart may well have got the Cooper role if he and Mann had still been on good terms. Certainly his practice with angst ridden heroes would have seved him well. But Cooper got the role in the twilight of his career. It was to be his final masterpiece although the same could not be said of Mann who went on to direct that glorious medieval epic "El Cid".

The story concerns an ex outlaw Link Jones played by Cooper who is forced to destroy his former accomplices by the very violence that he had sought to cleanse from his life. It is a deeply harrowing experience and Coopers features showed it. Only a few short years later Cooper was dead of cancer and he already looked like a dying man in this film. Gone was the youthful hero of the thirties. His performance is never less than impressive. Jones is forced to return to the former robbers nest where he grew up, after being left abandoned by the railway following a hold up. He is accompanied by a saloon singer (Julie London) and a tinhorn gambler Sam Beasley (Arthur O'Connell. The gang return led by the psychopathic Doc Tobin played with elan by Lee J Cobb. The other gang members are played by a suspicious John Dehner, a feisty Jack Lord, a wide eyed Royal Dano and that very underrated heavy Robert J Wilke as Poncho. They are all stellar support actors giving stellar performances. It is odd to see Jack Lord away from "Hawaii five O" in an unfamiliar guise. The gang becomes increasingly violent as Jones stalls for time and it leads to a bloody climax.

Make no mistake this is one of the great Westerns. I feel it was the finest film Mann made, which is a very bold claim given his glittering career. Although largely ignored on its release it was noted by that famous film director and critic Jean-Luc Godard who rated it very highly. Who am I to argue with that respected cinematic icon. This is a fine film in any genre which deserves wider acclaim. I can only hope that this minor review will have helped to do that. Highly recommended viewing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shootout in a ghost town, 30 May 2014
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Man Of The West [DVD] (DVD)
Apart from the very different Cimarron, this was the last great western directed, in 1958, by Anthony Mann. Written by Reginald Rose (rather than Borden Chase, who wrote some of Mann`s best westerns) this is a stark yet stylised film of the later days of the old west, with the appearance of trains a vital plot device, as well as providing Gary Cooper (in one of his last and best roles as dapper but visibly ageing Link Jones) with a few amusing moments as the 'man of the west' who hasn`t seen a train before let alone travelled in one.
Naturally, the train gets stopped and robbed of its booty, leaving a motley trio of survivors alone in the near-desert of Nowheresville, Texas: Cooper`s shy-tough Link, fancily-attired goodtime gal Billie Ellis played by singer Julie London at her sultry best, and ingratiating conman Sam Beasley, brilliantly acted by that great supporting player Arthur O`Connell.
They set off together and eventually arrive at an ominously remote shack inhabited by some old friends of Link...
These onetime pals are led by Dock Tobin, who is incarnated by Lee J. Cobb in one of his most courageously outlandish performances. Cobb was ten years younger than Cooper, but plays a man older, like an already mad Lear, with a gutsily manic laugh thrown in. This king`s crown is just waiting to be toppled.
His band of sweaty ne`er-do-wells are played by Jack Lord (superb in a flashily aggressive role), the excellent John Dehner, the inevitable Royal Dano quietly eloquent as a mute with an permanently cocked gun, and nasty-looking Robert Wilke as the greasiest of the lot.
[Slight spoiler ahead]:
There`s a town`s bank to be robbed. The film finishes in a ghost town, in one of the bleakest denouements of any western, the skeletal few buildings affording some interesting camera angles, until Link meets up with the crazed Tobin again, raving on a high bluff...
The whole cast is near-perfect, but the already ill Cooper is very touching in his last great western, a spare and brutal film that has an almost classical poetry of its own. Mann directs with a seriousness not seen so obviously before, and the whole thing lingers in the memory like one of those troubling dreams you can`t quite get rid of.

A great western and a great movie.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars western film, 26 Mar 2014
This review is from: Man Of The West (DVD)
A very good film, enjoyed an old western which was suitable for all ages.Will watch more of this type.and similar films
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANTHONY MANN'S FINAL, BRUTAL WESTERN POEM, 30 Nov 2013
This review is from: Man Of The West [DVD] (DVD)
When the subject of Anthony Mann's contribution to the western genre is explored, it is his cycle with James Stewart that is inevitable brought up. Indeed the Stewart collaboration Naked Spur (1953) remains Mann's highest praised achievement in the great American genre. However, it is his nearly forgotten and last true western, Man of the West (1958) starring Gary Cooper that is his most strikingly modern. A telling sign of this film's greatness lies in its still debated status.

Mann's casting of Cooper is nothing less than inspired brilliance, although it probably cost the film box office revenue. Mann and Stewart had fallen out during the making of the previous year's Night Passage, but by then audiences had come to accept Mann's reinvention of Stewart's on-screen persona. Starting in 1950, under Mann's direction Stewart had been portrayed as violent, selfish, cynical and remarkably complex.

In 1958, Gary Cooper was nearing the end of his career and no director had manipulated Cooper's screen personality in such a way as Mann had done with Stewart. Andre de Toth, a competent journeyman director who, never the less, lacked a real consistent vision, had come closest in Springfield Rifle (1952) by portraying Cooper's character as an accused coward in the first half of that film. However, that turned out to be an undercover ploy to smoke out the real traitors, so Cooper retained his pure as the driven snow nobility after all. Still, even then, neither audiences nor critics bought it. Laconic simplicity and nobility were Cooper's well established personality trademarks. Mann took advantage of what was already established and manipulated it with a darkly hued underbelly. Under Mann's direction, the "Yup" mannerisms of Cooper's Link Jones convey evasiveness in an attempt to hide a less than noble past.

Link Jones is about to catch a train, heading for Texas. He is on a mission to find a school teacher for his small town's new school and is carrying the funds to pay for her. A Marshall at the local train station thinks he recognizes Link, asks Link his name, inquires into Link's past and asks him if he knows the fugitive Doc Tobin (Lee J. Cobb). Link cautiously shakes his head, lies, squints, and evades the Marshall's penetrating looks. Mann's expert manipulation of Cooper's personality traits is so subtle as to be believable and, thus, unnerving. It was unsettling enough for 1958 audiences to reject it, and even contemporary critics have often lamented the casting of Cooper, as opposed to Stewart, in this film. Stewart would not have worked nearly as well simply because his casting would have been acceptable, even expected.

Cooper's Link Jones consistently plays dumb throughout the film, first to evade discovery, then out of sheer necessity for survival. It can well be believed that Link Jones hides a sordid past. Link's train trip is cut short when bandits rob the train. Link, saloon singer Billie (Julie London) and the con man Sam (Arthur O' Connell) are left stranded by the train. Link recognizes the nearby area as his one time home. Knowing the nearest town is 100 miles away, Link leads his fellow two passengers to the hidden farmhouse of his uncle and onetime foster father Doc Tobin. Link is surprised to find Doc there with his white trash gang. It is the same gang that robbed the train. Doc is even more surprised to see his prodigal son, Link. Doc reminds Link of a murder they committed together. Link looks away, vulnerable, embarrassingly exposed as if naked in front of the gang. Cobb expertly captures the trashy Doc without resorting to over-the-top, mannered melodramatics, such as the type Donald Pleasance' resorted to with a similar character in the otherwise well done Will Penny (1968) directed by Tom Gries.

Man of the West becomes a reversal of a biblical melodrama, with a dash of Oedipus thrown in for good measure. Here it is the father figure who needs redemption, but he is too unyielding, too far gone down the wrong path, too broken to find it. The prodigal, who has found his first redemption, away from his uncle/father, will eventually have to commit patricide in order to survive and secure his redemption. Billie and Sam have unwittingly joined the intentionally monikered "Link" on an existential journey that will transform them as well. The prodigal's cousins/step-brothers resent Link and feel betrayed that Doc still favors Link, even though they have proven more loyal and did not abandon their father the way Link did.

One of the gang has been mortally injured from the train robbery. Doc wants to display his still strong leadership and "family pride" to his returned prodigal. Doc orders his men to shoot and kill their wounded comrade. Neither cousin Punch (Robert J. Wilke, memorable in High Noon) nor cousin Trout (the always impressive Royal Dano) can do it. They are not real men, according to Doc. Link attempts to hide his smile, pleased that the first sign of Doc's lack of loyalty is blatantly apparent to all. Vicious cousin Coaley (Jack Lord) will do it.

When Coaley does the deed, Link's tension is felt. Indeed, this is a film of diaphanous tensions. We do not know just how long Link can continue his act or whether he will be able to protect his fellow passengers from harm. At greatest risk is Billie. Julie London invests an internal sexual tension in her character that she is sickened by. The sex appeal of London has often been compared to Elvis Presley, but it is London's complexity that renders Presley comparatively banal. Billie is as frightened for Link as he is for her. Thankfully, the romance that one keeps expecting to blossom between the two, never does, which only heightens the sexual tension. She knows full well what these men are capable of doing to her since she has dealt with types akin to these for years. "You are not like these at all" Billie tells Link. "I was. There was no difference." He tells her. Link's fear parallels Billie's fear. It is not the fear of the unknown, but the fear of what they both know all too well that threatens to consume them. Both characters resonate authenticity. Neither of them could survive their tormentors if they did not understand them and, in Link's case, if he had not once been that himself. This will lead to a second redemption for Link, in finally coming face to face with what he has been attempting to outrun for so long. Billie was on the verge of her escape when she boarded the train, but escape cannot be equated with redemption. When she left for Texas, Billie was on the verge of spiritual bankruptcy, from having seen and experienced too much. Now, out of necessity, cynicism and coldness have been replaced with co-dependency, vulnerability, and faith in someone else. Sam does not have enough firsthand experience in familiarity to ensure survival. However, he too must find redemption. Sam the con man is ready, willing and able to abandon Billie in escape. Sam does not need Billie, but he needs Link, only Link will not resort to such selfishness. Link's inspired example will provide Sam his own opportunity for an unselfish choice.

Cousin Claude (John Dehner) returns to the lair, having heard Link was on the train. When he finds Link alive and well with Uncle Doc, he is embittered, knowing that Link is only pretending to go along with Doc's dream of a full reconciliation between himself and Link. Claude loves Doc, especially in light of Doc's increasing senility and alcohol-induced nostalgia for older, better days, which he knows Link is taking advantage of in order to survive. Claude begs Doc to kill Link, even though he knows Doc, who truly loves Link, will never allow it.

Link, echoing the Davidic Absalom, takes revenge upon Coaly for his intended violation of Billie. Link humiliates Coaley in the same manner that Coaly humiliated Billie, in front of the "family." In the earlier sequence, Coaley forced Billie to expose herself by stripping down to her corset as he held a knife to Link's exposed throat. Drained and vulnerable, Billie collapses in abject humiliation. That earlier sequence is, by turns, titillating, repulsive and unbearably tense. In retaliation, Link now similarly exposes Coaly, stripping him down after a savage beating. Link identifies all too well with Billie's vulnerability. They both felt naked and humiliated in front of this family. The retaliation scene is equally tense and well executed. Doc is so proud of Link's raw humiliation of Coaly, that he slaps, father-like, Link on the back. Doc's number one boy is back. It is more than Coaley can endure and he tries to shoot cousin Link. Ready, willing, and able, Sam intentionally takes the bullet meant for Link. The dying Sam tells Link, "I don't know what came over me. I never would have done that before." Sam tires to pooh-pooh his sacrifice," It was a shrewd move of me. If they had killed you, they never would have allowed me to live." Link knows better than to accept Sam's half-hearted downplay of what he just gave up. Inevitably, Link and Billie will join Sam, unless an opportunity soon arises.

Doc wants to consummate the old father-son relationship with a bank job in the nearby town of Lassoo. The senile Doc is unaware that Lassoo is now a ghost town, but Link is aware of it and sees this as the opportunity to reverse the situation for Billie and for himself.

Billie is raped (off-screen) by Doc (shades of the biblical Lot) while, simultaneously, Link is killing Doc's "sons" in Lassoo. In the showdown between Link and Doc, Link tells his father, "I have killed your sons. Lassoo is a ghost town, like you. You are a ghost who has outlived his usefulness." Man of the West is brutal poetry and may well the best film of Mann's entire oeuvre. Par for the course, MGM has issued it in a "ho-hum" release.
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Man Of The West [DVD]
Man Of The West [DVD] by Anthony Mann (DVD - 2008)
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