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4.5 out of 5 stars
The Far Country - Westerns Collection 2011 [DVD]
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Anthony Mann's series of Westerns with James Stewart playing the very human, angst ridden hero have quite rightly been hailed as Western classics by many respected film critics. So who am I to disagree. This impressive series consists of "Winchester 73"(50), "Where the River bends"(53), "The Naked Spur"(54), "The Far Country(55) and "The Man from Laramie"(56). James Stewart's hero battles his own demons in all of them. He often gets roughed up. But he always comes back stronger. Mann deserves his place in the pantheon of great directors, together with John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, Howard Hawks and Budd Boetticher as other notables from the genre.

A brief synopsis as this has already been covered. Jeff Webster (Stewart) and his partner Ben Tatum (Walter Brennan) travel to Alaska to sell cattle. Webster is all business and Tatum is all talk, which later leads to big trouble. Whilst in Skagway Webster falls foul of of a crooked lawman played by John MacIntyre. They eventually make their way inland to Dawson where Webster sells his cattle, investing the money in a gold stake. Dawson is run by a bunch of thugs who will murder for gold but Webster to the annoyance of the law abiding citizenry does nothing. Webster is eventually provoked into action by the murder of Tatum. The scene is set for the climactic shoot out.

This film would not be everybodys choice as the best from the series, but it is mine. There are a number of reasons why I have always admired it above the others. The location of Alaska and the inspired use of Jasper National Park adds hugely to the film. It is handsome to watch, the scenery being absolutely magnificent. "North to Alaska" starring John Wayne was one of the few I can recall, but that was not in this films league. Walter Brennan puts in another great scene stealing performance. Brennan would take out his false teeth and play the same character in many Westerns."Red River" and "Rio Bravo" being two of the most memorable. The amazon review for the Region 2 DVD describes his character as a "Garrulous old codger". Just loved that description! Stewart plays the slow burning hero with a few headaches brilliantly. I loved the climactic shootout. Perhaps one of the best ever, where Stewart's famous horse Pie and a bell make a significant contribution.

I have few reservations about this film. It is great entertainment. If you want to be pernickety, I would have to say John MacIntyre was not in the same league of heavies as Arthur Kennedy or Robert Ryan. I also found it hard to see the garrulous old codger shot down in cold blood. No wonder Stewart got mad. I was apoplectic watching. But seriously this is great watching. I hope if you decide to buy this film that you enjoy it as much as I have.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Cunningly interesting Western from a director who had few peers in the genre. Much like other Anthony Mann pictures, The Far Country blends a potent pot boiling story with an adroit knowing of impacting scenery. Both of which play out amongst some of Mann's peccadilloes like honour, integrity, betrayal and of course, death! The story sees fortune hunting partners Jeff Webster {James Stewart} and Ben Tatum {Walter Brennan} travel to Oregon Territory with a herd of cattle. Aware of the blossoming gold-boom, they plan to make a tidy profit selling the cattle in a Klondike town. Arriving in Skagway they find self-appointed judge Mr. Gannon {John McIntire} ready to meet out justice to Webster on account of Webster having fractured the law, all be it with honest cause, along the way. In punishment Gannon takes the partners herd from them, but they steal them back and head across the Canadian border to Dawson-with Gannon and his men in hot pursuit. Here beautiful women and a meek and lawless town will fill out the destinies of all involved.

Interesting from start to finish, The Far Country benefits greatly from James Stewart's bubbling {anti} hero in waiting portrayal and Mann's slick direction of the tight Borden Chase script. The cinematography from William H. Daniels is superlative, tho not done any favours by current DVD prints, and the film has a few surprises and a "will he wont he?" core reeling the viewers in. Paying dividends on re-watches for hardened genre fans, it still remains something of an essential viewing for first timers venturing into the wonderful, yet dark, Western world of Anthony Mann and James Stewart. 8/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Anthony Mann's series of Westerns with James Stewart playing the very human, angst ridden hero have quite rightly been hailed as Western classics by many respected film critics. So who am I to disagree. This impressive series consists of "Winchester 73"(50), "Where the River bends"(53), "The Naked Spur"(54), "The Far Country(55) and "The Man from Laramie"(56). James Stewart's hero battles his own demons in all of them. He often gets roughed up. But he always comes back stronger. Mann deserves his place in the pantheon of great directors, together with John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, Howard Hawks and Budd Boetticher as other notables from the genre.

A brief synopsis as this has already been covered. Jeff Webster (Stewart) and his partner Ben Tatum (Walter Brennan) travel to Alaska to sell cattle. Webster is all business and Tatum is all talk, which later leads to big trouble. Whilst in Skagway Webster falls foul of of a crooked lawman played by John MacIntyre. They eventually make their way inland to Dawson where Webster sells his cattle, investing the money in a gold stake. Dawson is run by a bunch of thugs who will murder for gold but Webster to the annoyance of the law abiding citizenry does nothing. Webster is eventually provoked into action by the murder of Tatum. The scene is set for the climactic shoot out.

This film would not be everybodys choice as the best from the series, but it is mine. There are a number of reasons why I have always admired it above the others. The location of Alaska and the inspired use of Jasper National Park adds hugely to the film. It is handsome to watch, the scenery being absolutely magnificent. "North to Alaska" starring John Wayne was one of the few I can recall, but that was not in this films league. Walter Brennan puts in another great scene stealing performance. Brennan would take out his false teeth and play the same character in many Westerns."Red River" and "Rio Bravo" being two of the most memorable. The amazon review describes his character as a "Garrulous old codger". Just love that description! Stewart plays the slow burning hero with a few headaches brilliantly. I loved the climactic shootout. Perhaps one of the best ever, especially when Stewart uses his famous horse Pie with the distinctive bell jingling to announce his coming to town. But of course he is not riding him.

I have few reservations about this film. It is great entertainment. If you want to be pernickety, I would have to say John MacIntyre was not in the same league of heavies as Arthur Kennedy or Robert Ryan. I also found it hard to see the garrulous old codger shot down in cold blood. No wonder Stewart got mad. I was apoplectic watching. But seriously this is great watching. I hope if you decide to buy this film that you enjoy it as much as I have.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The penultimate collaboration between director Anthony Mann and star James Stewart (excluding the few days Mann worked on Night Passage before parting company with the star under less than amicable circumstances), The Far Country belies its mainstream look to offer another portrait of an embittered man dragged unwillingly to his own redemption, fighting it every step of the way. This time he's a cattle driver whose response to labour problems - challenging troublesome cowhands to a gunfight at the end of the trail - results in his cattle being confiscated by John McIntire's larcenous judge of the Roy Bean school of law and order. Stealing them back and taking them across the Canadian border, he soon finds himself unwillingly drawn into the growing conflict between prospectors and the judge as he cheats or kills them out of their claims...

While it's no great surprise which way Stewart turns at the end, he's a surprisingly callous critter along the way, even using his desire to just be left alone to excuse not warning a group of prospectors of an impending avalanche when he has the chance because it's not his problem. For most of the film there's really only a hair's breadth between him and McIntire, something the judge recognises immediately, revelling in the company of a kindred spirit even as he's genially planning to lynch him. In many ways the townspeople who put their faith in him probably recognise it too - despite their appeals to his dead-and-buried better nature, there's an unspoken acknowledgement that the only person who can stand up to the judge is someone almost as bad as he is.

As usual with Mann there's an exceptional use of high country locations, though for once the final showdown takes place on level ground, and the film is almost perfectly cast with strong support from Walter Brennan, Harry Morgan and Ruth Roman (though Corinne Calvert's young romantic interest veers to the irritating). Sadly the great cinematography of the Canadian Rockies is done few favours by a distinctly average DVD transfer, with only the theatrical trailer as an extra.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2007
The FAR COUNTRY (1954) Was the forth and penultimate Western from this director and star pairing of Anthony Mann and James Stewart and without doubt puts them second only to John Ford and John Wayne in making fine Western movies that have stood the test of time for over fifty years. Unlike Ford who almost exclusively returned time after time to Monument valley, Mann picked wonderful new locations for each of his Westerns, this time being the awesome landscape of Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

The story (as with previous outings) is from a Borden Chase script and has tough cattleman Jeff Webster (James Stewart) and his sidekick Ben Tatum (Walter Brennan) meeting up in 1896 Seattle, hearing of the gold rush Jeff decides to take his cattle to Dawson City en-route he falls foul of no-good Skagway judge, sheriff Gannon (John McItire). Webster finds himself jailed. Gannon releases him but confiscates Jeff's cattle. Jeff agrees to lead a party of eager prospectors up to Dawson with eager support from saloon owner Rhonda Castle (Ruth Roman) and young French Canadian girl Renee Vallon (Connie Calvet) as they near the Canadian border Jeff and Ben slip back one night and steal the cattle back, returning to the border with Gannon and his cronies in hot pursuit, Jeff manages to delay the pursuers long enough to allow everyone to cross the border into Canada.

Delivering the cattle to Dawson and selling them to Rhonda Castle following an auction. Rhonda sets up a saloon along with new arrival Gannon. Meanwhile Jeff and Ben set off to do a little gold mining of their own. Trouble brews as Gannon and his motley band cheat the miners one by one from their claims. The miners and good town folk try to elect Jeff as marshal, but he refuses so local man Rube Morris (J C Flippen) is elected. After a killing in Rhonda's saloon Rude is left facing one of Gannon's hired guns, Jeff suggesting that he backs down to save his life. Rube loses face and resigns, and then follows more claim jumping until only a few are left. Jeff and Ben receive their visit in due course and are ambushed when leaving camp, both are badly shot up and left for dead, Jeff somehow drags himself out of the river recovers Ben's body and heads for town. Renee takes Jeff in and tends his wounds as he vows to get those responsible. After a partial recovery Jeff sets out for the final showdown with Gannon and his men holed up in the saloon.

This Universal DVD release 94 minutes running time has no special extras apart from the original Trailer, which is a pity as all these Mann / Stewart Westerns deserve to be preserved in the best possible way, good value for little money though! Last but not least to look out for in this series is THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955).
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 4 July 2015
This 1954 film was (chronologically) the fourth Western collaboration between film-maker Anthony Mann and Hollywood 'good guy’ James Stewart and is notable for casting Stewart (at least partly) against type – here, as a cynical, distrusting loner of dubious moral conscience (though, eventually, at least partially redeemed). Mann’s film is also hugely spectacular as Borden Chase’s screenplay takes Stewart’s single-minded cattleman, Jeff Webster, with Walter Brennan’s long-standing 'partner’, Ben Tatum, in tow, across the far North West of the US into the Yukon/Klondike region of Canada (actually, Alberta in Canada) in search of (first) cash for their beef and then gold in the embryonic ‘goldrush town’ of Dawson City – (the lauded) William H Daniels’ cinematography of mountain/glacier landscapes, including a spectacular avalanche, is one of The Far Country’s most memorable features.

In fact, Mann’s film gets off to a rather meandering and fanciful (if still spectacular) start as Webster and Tatum find themselves 'let off’ for the apparent murder of two of Webster’s 'cowhands’ as they make their way from Seattle to Skagway (on the US-Canadian border). As the pair embark (recovered herd in tow) across the glaciated mountains towards the border, however, Mann’s film comes into its own, developing some strong character roles – as Webster’s 'friendly rivalry’ with John McIntire’s local Mr Big, Judge Gannon, spills over and the loner cattleman takes a fancy to Ruth Roman’s feisty bar-owner, Ronda Castle. Mann also plays up the film’s engaging theme of the 'value of community’ (contrasted with Webster’s loner outlook) as Webster, Tatum and Jay C Flippen’s likeable drunk (in a constant reverie of his potential gold fortune), Marshall Rube Morris, arrive in Dawson, only to be confronted with Gannon and his gang of heavies, looking to disrupt proceedings. The frailties of Webster’s conflicted character are convincingly portrayed – torn between Tatum’s increasing condemnation and Ronda’s temptation, but unwilling to ‘step up to the mark’ as requested by Connie Gilchrist’s impressive local community activist, Hominy.

For me, The Far Country is not one of either Mann’s or Stewart’s best, but for the film’s interesting take on the power of community, the intriguing, off-beat Stewart characterisation and the film’s stunning visuals, it is certainly worth seeing.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 3 June 2014
The synopsis of this superb western (more of a 'northern' to be honest) is given above by Amazon in comprehensive style, so I`ll restrict my comments to a personal response to this later outdoor epic by Anthony Mann.
I say 'epic' as this has a more expansive and flamboyant look and feel to it than, say, The Naked Spur or Bend of the River, both wonderful films made with Mann`s preferred leading man - until they fell out after the making of The Man From Laramie - the impeccable James Stewart. It`s mostly set in the Yukon, though filmed in Canada. With judicious use of backdrops, it looks impressive, with an authentic frontier feel to it, with men making their own laws on the hoof.
Stewart here plays a rather more selfish man than in his other westerns, very much someone out for his own interests. But of course, along with other plot-lines, the story concerns his hard-learnt lessons in humility and humanity. There was no better actor than Stewart at portraying a man with inner demons, his impatience or rage flaring up all too readily, often to an unsettling degree. (My strong hunch is that Stewart had his own reserves of well tended anger, to be able to show them so readily at will - that isn`t mere acting.)
Walter Brennan is pitch-perfect as usual as his long-suffering sidekick, while the too rarely seen Ruth Roman is believably blowsy as the main love interest, a woman enjoying her status amid the mercurial shenanigans of the men around her. John McIntire, who couldn`t have given a bad performance if he tried, is at his incisive best as an affable bad guy, and equally wonderful Jay C. Flippen is a terminally tipsy ally of Stewart`s, with the great Jack Elam in an absurdly small role as one of the baddies.
A word though for now-forgotten French starlet Corinne Calvet, who plays an inexperienced yet punchily confident young woman Stewart calls 'freckle-face', much to her amusing frustration. When she declares "I am not a freckle-face, I am a woman!" it`s both heartfelt and humorously touching. Calvet made quite a few films, including earlier in France, but was misused (in more ways than one) by Hollywood, and later wrote her autobiography, which I`d love to read. She could certainly act, and she adds a lot to the scenes she`s in.
This Mann western doesn`t perhaps have the neat, smaller-scale perfection of The Naked Spur or Man of the West, but it`s still an essential addition to his series of remarkable, and remarkably varied, western films of the fifties and sixties.
Nine out of ten for this one - and I`m sure you`ll want to watch it much more than once. After all, it`s an Anthony Mann western: quality guaranteed.
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Universal Studios presents "THE FAR COUNTRY" (1955) (97 min/Color) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Set in the Yukon, Jeff Webster (James Stewart) and his friends are driving cattle to market from Wyoming to Canada, where the boom towns pay top dollar for beef --- When they arrive in Skagway, the corrupt sheriff of the town, Gannon (John McIntire) steals the cattle and Webster is forced to fight for their herd --- Together with Ronda Castle (Ruth Roman), owner of The Skagway Castle & Dawson Castle saloons, they find themselves up against an evil they were not prepared for --- When Webster's friend is killed, he is forced to go up against the evil Gannon.

Good versus evil in incredible Yukon settings makes this a highly entertaining Western.

Written for the screen by Borden Chase who also scripted two other Stewart/Mann westerns: "Winchester '73" (1950) & "Bend of the River" (1952).

Under the production staff of:
Anthony Mann [Director]
Borden Chase [story and screenplay]
Aaron Rosenberg [Producer]
Henry Mancini [Original Music]
Hans J. Salter [Original Music]
Frank Skinner [Original Music]
Herman Stein [Original Music]
William H. Daniels [Cinematographer]
Russell F. Schoengarth [Film Editor]

BIOS:
1. Anthony Mann [aka: Emil Anton Bundesmann] - [Director]
Date of Birth: 30 June 1906 - San Diego, California
Date of Death: 29 April 1967 - Berlin, Germany

2. James Stewart
Date of Birth: 20 May 1908 - Indiana, Pennsylvania
Date of Death: 2 July 1997 - Los Angeles, California

the cast includes:
James Stewart - Jeff Webster
Ruth Roman - Ronda Castle
Corinne Calvet - Renee Vallon
Walter Brennan - Ben Tatum
John McIntire - Gannon
Jay C. Flippen - Rube
Harry Morgan - Ketchum
Steve Brodie - Ives
Connie Gilchrist - Hominy
Robert J. Wilke - Madden
Chubby Johnson - Dusty
Royal Dano - Luke
Jack Elam - Newberry
Kathleen Freeman - Grits
Connie Van - Molasses

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 97 min on DVD ~ Universal Studios ~ (05/06/2003)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2009
yet another great western starring james stewart ,i have not seen him in a poor western and this film is very enjoyable with outstanding scenery ,one for the collection.
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on 23 April 2009
Good Canadian rockies scenery.

Brennan fantastic as always (rest of cast good)

Film gets better as it goes along so don't be put off by first ten minutes.

I am not a JS fan but still worth 3 stars (just).

Enjoyable film worth buying at a reasonable price.
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