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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anthony Mann and James Stewart team up for WINCHESTER '73.The gun that won the West.
James Stewart's first Western was DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939) eleven years later he played the former army scout Tom Jeffords in BROKEN ARROW (1950). Directed by Delmer Daves, then came WINCHESTER '73. But it was Anthony Mann's WINCHESTER '73 that was given its public release first, which also revealed to the public a hitherto unknown harder-edged Stewart which was to...
Published on 16 Mar. 2007 by Robert J. Evered

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good
I would not rate this film quite as highly as other reviewers here. The theme is pretty much standard Western fare - revenge - but the landscapes are interesting and camera work unfussy.

I thought best acting came from Dan Duryea as a gunman who's portrayed as psychotic but kept this side of plausibility. Shelley Winters is a spirited heroine, and James...
Published on 14 Jan. 2009 by Humpty Dumpty


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anthony Mann and James Stewart team up for WINCHESTER '73.The gun that won the West., 16 Mar. 2007
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This review is from: Winchester 73 [DVD] (DVD)
James Stewart's first Western was DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939) eleven years later he played the former army scout Tom Jeffords in BROKEN ARROW (1950). Directed by Delmer Daves, then came WINCHESTER '73. But it was Anthony Mann's WINCHESTER '73 that was given its public release first, which also revealed to the public a hitherto unknown harder-edged Stewart which was to continue with a series of Mann / Stewart Westerns culminating in THE MAN FROM LARAMIE (1955). Sadly they fell out in the early pre-production stages of NIGHT PASSAGE (1956) and never worked together again!

Produced by Aaron Rosenberg for Universal International. Fritz Lang had been originally earmarked as Director of WINCHESTER `73 but he wasn't available so Mann was chosen to direct his first Western. Robert L. Richards and Borden Chase wrote the screenplay from a story by Stuart N. Lake Beautifully shot in black & white with riders on the skyline images and night time campfire scenes reminiscent of John Ford's best work.

Lin McAdam (James Stewart) and his sidekick High-Spade Frankie Wilson (Millard Mitchell) ride into Dodge City on the trail of Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally). McAdam befriends dance hall girl Lola Manners (Shelley Winters) who is about to run out of town by Wyatt Earp (Will Geer). He then finds himself up against Dutch Henry Brown in a 4th of July Centennial shooting match for a one-in-a-thousand Winchester Rifle Model 1873. Lin McAdam wins the contest and is presented with The Prize Winchester by Wyatt Earp. On returning to his hotel room Stewart is bushwhacked by the runner up (Dutch Henry Brown) who steals the rifle and beats a hasty retreat of town.

With McAdam and High-Spade in hot pursuit the rifle falls into the hands of various Western characters along the way, first it's gun-salesman Joe Lamont (John McIntyre) who losses it to Indian Chief Young Bull (Rock Hudson), then it's found by young Trooper Doan (Tony Curtis) who hands it to Sgt Wilkes (Jay C Flippen) who in turn gives it to Steve Miller (Charles Drake) then it's stolen by Waco Johnnie Dean (Dan Duryea) who surrenders it back to Dutch Henry Brown. Finally after a long drawn out chase McAdam catches up with Dutch Henry Brown for a spectacular final shoot-out on a mountain precipice.

Released by Universal Studios 2004 on DVD with the original theatrical Trailer and a unique one-and-only (audio) interview with James Stewart conducted over and above a latter-day private screening of WINCHESTER '73. They discuss the film, cast and other highlights of Stewart's career. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Gun with a Bloody History., 1 Nov. 2009
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winchester 73 [DVD] (DVD)
"Winchester 73"(50) is the first western in director Anthony Mann's fine series of westerns all made in the fifties, and all starring the affable James Stewart. This was followed by "Where the River Bends"(52),"The Naked Spur"(53),"The Far Country"(54) and finally "The Man from Laramie"(55). The only other bodies of western films that bear comparison are John Ford's cavalry trilogy and Budd Boetticher's magisterial series with Randolph Scott. All these films were made in that halcyon western period of the fifties.

The story involves Stewart attempting to track down the murderer of his father. The story starts off with a rifle shooting competition in Dodge city, where Marshall Wyatt Earp played by a portly Will Geer rules the roost. Stewart wins the prize which is a one in a thousand Winchester 73 repeating rifle. Shortly after winning his prize it is stolen from him by bank robber Stephen McNally. The gun then passes through a rogues gallery of owners for whom it brings rather bad luck. This includes a gun runner, an Indian chief and a rather psychotic gunman. Will Stewart get his prized possession back? Will he finally catch up with his father's murderer? We head to a blazing finale with a final twist to the story.

The film was made in very stark black and white which does not detract from the film. It was the only film in the series to be made in this format. In this film Stewart plays a more traditional western hero. In the later films Mann develops Stewart's roles into the more vulnerable and angst ridden hero we become more familiar with. The films plot device where we follow the guns bloody history through a series of unfortunate owners bears remarkable similarities to Francois Girard's "The Red Violin"(98), where the violin replaces the Winchester as the object that brings much bad luck to its many owners. Winchester 73 has an unusually fine cast. That charismatic actor Dan Duryea plays the psychotic gunman with casual aplomb. It was a role he later specialized in. Rock Hudson plays the young Indian chief. He later played an Indian in "Taza son of Cochise". Tony Curtis also appears very briefly in one of his earlier roles as a cavalryman. Shelley Winters is the guns rival for Stewart's affections.

Whilst this is a very fine film indeed, it is perhaps one of the weaker films in the series. Stewart's character matures into a more complex hero in the later films. In "The Naked Spur" he teeters on the verge of a mental breakdown and in "The Man from Laramie" he becomes the bitter vengeance seeking nemesis of Arthur Kennedy. These roles demanded that little more of Stewart's considerable acting abilities. Stephen McNally as the chief villain is perhaps a little lightweight compared to the likes of Kennedy and Robert Ryan who also appeared later. Perhaps Duryea would have been better in this role? But overall these are minor flaws and this is a fine start to a very fine series of westerns. Highly recommended. Four and a half stars really.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Winchester 73 - James Stewart and Anthony Mann give a glimpse of the great things to some, 17 Jan. 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Winchester '73 (1950) - Westerns Collection 2011 [DVD] (DVD)
This was, as many have mentioned here, the first pairing of director Anthony Mann and actor James Stewart in what would become their `psychological Western' sequence. This first collaboration is a fine film, but better was to come.

Stewart had built up an on screen persona of affability, likeableness and general do gooding. It must have been a bit of a surprise to the film goers of the time to see him here, playing much the same character but with the added dimension of being hell bent on a mission of vengeance. Lin McAdam is a generally nice guy, but he has a mission to complete, he must find and kill the man who shot his father. He is almost blind to all else. It's a step away from Stewart's usual character, and even bigger steps into the dark side of the human soul would follow in later films.

As well as the story of McAdam's mission of vengeance this film also follows a gun, the Wnchester 73 of the title. One in a thousand, this is a special gun and everyone covets it. By rights it belongs to McAdam after he won it in a shooting contest, but it gets stolen and passes through many hands until it is used against him in the final shootout. This allows the director to give us a series of vignettes built around the people that have the gun, giving us some fascinating characterisations.

There is a generally fine supporting cast to lift this another notch (the weak link is Rock Hudson's Apache warrior). Millard Mitchell puts in another great turn as the solid and dependable companion of McAdam (why he never became a leading man I'll never know, he provided many memorable supporting performances), Dan Duryea is a charming unhinged wildman and Shelley Winters is perfect as the lady of the piece. The scene where she explains she knows what the last bullet is for is very memorable.

A great study of human nature, a thrilling story as the heroes deal with various Indian attacks and gunslingers, topped with an unexpected twist right at the end and one of the bust shoot-outs ever filmed, this is an out and out classic. But because better films followed it I am only going to give 4 stars.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WINCHESTER 73, 14 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Winchester 73 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
One of the all time great westerns,made when the bad guys wore black hats and the good guys wore white hats. If you love westerns and could only see one this is the one to see. James Stewart as the good guy chasing his evil brother who killed their father is unmissable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mann and Stewart's new direction for the Western, 24 Feb. 2015
This review is from: Winchester '73 (1950) - Westerns Collection 2011 [DVD] (DVD)
Anthony Mann's 1950 Western Winchester '73 represents a milestone in the genre. It may not have been meant at the time, but the film marked the beginning of a transition from straight forward black and white, good vs. evil tales featuring squeaky clean heroes and dastardly villains towards altogether more complex fables where psychological complexities muddy moral judgment on 'hero' and 'villain' alike with a new stress on neurotic 'family issues', sex and violence. Movie stars were very powerful at this time and it was Jimmy Stewart who initiated the process by stating a wish to move away from his squeaky clean Everyman persona that had been polished through the 40s mainly by Frank Capra in films such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) and It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Universal initially had Fritz Lang slated to direct, but Stewart overrode that and insisted on Anthony Mann with the original Robert L. Richards script re-written by Borden Chase to inject the film's central battle between Stewart's tortured Lin McAdam and the outlaw 'Dutch Henry' Brown (Stephen McNally) with more of a neurotic edge. Stewart knew Mann would apply the aesthetic of film noir (as brilliantly shown in films like T-Men [1947] and Raw Deal [1948]) to the Western with plenty of added paranoia and excitingly staged fist-fights with an emphasis on physicality - manic eyes bulging and finger nails scratching across faces. The results are electrifying, the film's narrative structured around a series of terrific set-pieces which embellish the tale of McAdam's chase for the gun of the film's title which is stolen from him at the outset and then returned at the close as he chases down the man who shot his father in the back.

The film's huge box office success led to four more Western collaborations between Stewart and Mann - Bend of the River (1952), The Naked Spur (1953), The Far Country (1955) and The Man from Laramie (1955). Critics are divided as to which of these is the best (in my view they are all wonderful), but taken together they ensured the Western genre would never be the same again. The process is loosely called "revisionism" and would be followed up with Budd Boetticher's cycle of revenge Westerns with Randolph Scott on the way through to the bloodbaths of the Vietnam War era from Robert Aldrich (Ulzana's Raid) and Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid). Even John Ford was forced to revise his textbook of how "classic" Westerns should be made. An ocean separates Wagon Master (made in 1950, the same year as Winchester '73) and the magnificent revisionist statement and revenge Western that is The Searchers (1956).

As I have said elsewhere, the greatest Westerns celebrate (commemorate) America's creation mythology of the past whilst also commenting on the world of the present. Winchester '73 is no exception to this, its celebration of the creation of the USA fore-fronted from the outset. "The gun that won the West" is how the Winchester is referred to as a group of people look adoringly at it displayed in a window case in Dodge City. It being July 4th the very day America was proclaimed independent, the iconic Marshall of Western folklore Wyatt Earp of Dodge City (Will Geer) announces a shooting contest, first prize being the gun. This makes the gun a very obvious symbol of American Nationhood which is fought over in the final round by two men - McAdam (civilization) and Dutch Henry (anti-civilization). McAdam wins the contest, but the gun is promptly stolen from him as Dutch jumps him in his room. This kicks off the film's exciting chase with the gun (re American Nationhood) becoming a virtual character on its own as it passes from person to person, each one symbolizing a stage in America's journey into creation. Meant for the 'civilized' hands of respectable law and order (McAdam), it passes into the hands of an outlaw (Dutch) who then promptly loses it at cards to Indian gun trader Joe Lamont (John McIntire) in a beautifully staged scene. Indian gun traders were virtual outlaws themselves, selling guns to the Indians so that white men can be killed. Significantly, the film is set in 1876 in the wake of the Battle of the Little Big Horn when the Indian Nation was on the rise. Lamont in turn loses the Winchester to Indian Chief Young Bull (an early role for Rock Hudson) to underline the huge threat posed to the creation of America with the gun now suggesting Nationhood for the Indians as opposed to the whites. The threat is neatly expressed through a buggy (replete with dodgy wheel) driven by Steve Miller and Lola Manners, aka proto Mr. and Mrs. Civilized America (Charles Drake and Shelley Winters) being chased by a war party of Indians into a troop of cavalry soldiers, the traditional protectors of civilization (as per the classic Western textbook as written by John Ford) who turn out to be pinned down by the Indians themselves. Into this morass ride McAdam and his sidekick High Spade (Millard Mitchell) to complete the metaphor of an America under threat.

Western civilization prevails in the end with Mr. and Mrs. America saved by the country combining forces together in a resonant echo of the Civil War. Sgt. Wilkes (the marvelous character actor Jay C. Flippen) commands a troop of young greenhorn Yankee recruits from the North (a young 'Anthony' Curtis among them) and is inexperienced in Indian fighting. McAdam and High Spade however fought for the Confederate South and have Indian fighting experience aplenty. North and South bury their differences and unite to create the USA (the central couple) out of the wilderness. Rock Hudson's charismatic chief (significantly named Young Bull following Sitting Bull's Little Big Horn victory) bights the dust (despite the 'victory', the Little Big Horn was the beginning of the end for the Indian nation) and with him his prized Winchester. The fledgling nation is still too unstable for the right man to assume control of the gun (to cement Nationhood) and McAdam quickly rides off in pursuit of his own personal demons to illustrate this point before Wilkes has a chance to give him the weapon found on the ground. Knowing the gun would be wasted by having it confiscated by a superior officer (in the schema of the film this would represent fascism in the shape of military dictatorship!), he gives the gun to Mr. Civilization, Steve Miller. He however is not man enough to know what to do with such a responsibility (to protect a nation against chaos). Having already shown his cowardice by attempting to leave his woman to the Indians during the pursuit, he later has the gun wrested from him by another outlaw, Waco Johnny Dean (the wonderful and ever-mercurial Dan Duryea) who kills him and claims the 'hearth of civilization' Lola Manners for himself. In this way the pendulum swings back in favor of the outlaw element and the 'Wild West' which remains untamed. The name 'Lola Manners' in itself suggests she represents the 'hearth of civilization' torn between the life of a whore ('Lola') and the life of a respectable home and community maker ('Manners'). With Waco Johnny Dean she returns to whoredom and playing the piano in a saloon while her new 'man' allies himself with Dutch Henry to pull a bank job, the latter in the meantime having wrested the Winchester back for himself. It takes an inevitable final confrontation (one of the most neurotic gunfights ever seen in a Western atop a rocky mountain slope) between civilization (McAdam) and anti-civilization (Dutch Henry) to return the gun to its rightful owner and create a nation to be proud of, the respectable force of law and order (McAdam) united with the proverbial 'hearth of civilization' (Ms. Manners) to make for the prospect of a glorious future for America.

Creation mythology aside, there must be a reason why the Western suddenly became obsessed with revenge and psychological issues other than Jimmy Stewart wanting to change his image. His wish to change extended to roles in other genres for other directors (most notably of course for Alfred Hitchcock in Rear Window and Vertigo), demonstrating neurosis wasn't just the preserve of Westerns. It seems this search for increased range was a career move for an actor which had the huge side effect of hitting a public nerve, of catching the spirit of the times, and it was done probably quite by chance. Winchester '73 was a huge box office smash (far bigger than Mann's other three films made in 1950 including the marvelous Western Devil's Doorway) and kick-started a string of neurotic roles Stewart played for Mann in a series of dark revenge Westerns which all exhibit moral ambiguity within the heroes. They are all outwardly honorable (likable even), but driven by inner demons created by the frustrations of (in the film's immediate context) frontier life, and (in the film's contemporary context) American life in the 1950s. Here surely lies the real reason why "revisionism" in the Western became so popular at the time. Philip French in his excellent book Westerns talks about "an underlying drive towards anarchy and disintegration, a feeling that the inhabitants of America have a tenuous grip upon their continent" that was shaped by the prevailing 50s current of anti-communist paranoia, McCarthyist witch-hunting, awakening civil rights unrest and the fear of nuclear apocalypse, all of which had been created out of the ashes of World War Two and by subsequent American involvement in the Korean War. Two years after Winchester '73, Fred Zinnemann's High Noon was a reaction against McCarthyism as well as a possible allegory on the Korean conflict. Starting with Winchester '73, Westerns came to center predominantly on inner psychological conflict with Americans basically fighting themselves, members of their own families and communities. Heroes tend to be ridden with guilt over crimes committed in the past which reappear as ghosts which need exorcising. Lin McAdam (Lin for 'Lincoln' perhaps?) in this film exists on one level as nation creator, but on another he is an exorcist dealing with crimes of the past so that America can justify its existence in the modern world, a world that was looking with ever-increasing skepticism at what the country was doing in Korea and what they were about to do in Vietnam.

I love this film very much, but it isn't perfect. There is a problem with pacing with a very noticeable gear change around the time we first meet Waco Johnny Dean. Up until then we have been treated to a series of leisurely finely-drawn scenes - the shooting contest in Dodge City, the encounter between the Indian trader and Dutch Henry and the scene with Sgt. Wilkes exchanging with Lola and then McAdam prior to a splendid Indian attack. The pace of the connecting sections is swift from the beginning but the main scenes offer a chance to relax and savor some very fine acting (John McIntire and Jay C. Flippen stand out in particular along with Stewart, McNally less so) and some outstanding camerawork from William H. Daniels. Some of the in-depth b/w widescreen compositions are stunningly achieved as the 'epic' always counter-balances the psychological chase with precision. With the appearance of Dan Duryea however, Mann puts his foot on the gas and we are whisked from one exciting set piece to the next at break-neck pace with the consequence that the final confrontation on the mountain slope comes a shade abruptly and the film's total structure feels lop-sided. The final face-off is finely handled, it's a classic scene of its type in fact, but one senses the front office wanted to keep the picture to 90 minutes and cut to the chase rather than making the most of the epic potential that remains sadly untapped. It's a terrific Western all the same, and a must-buy for anyone interested in the genre. This Universal DVD is excellent quality, the pictures sharp (aspect ratio: 16:9) with no distortion at all. It comes with a very interesting commentary track with Jimmy Stewart himself where his modesty is disarming. He never mentions that he had complete control over choice of director and co-stars, or that with this film and the following Harvey, he and his agent Lew Wasserman negotiated a deal for 50% of the profits in lieu of a high salary. Already wealthy by this point, the deal took him into the stratosphere.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Winchester 73 - James Stewart and Anthony Mann give a glimpse of the great things to some, 17 Jan. 2012
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Winchester 73 [DVD] (DVD)
This was, as many have mentioned here, the first pairing of director Anthony Mann and actor James Stewart in what would become their `psychological Western' sequence. This first collaboration is a fine film, but better was to come.

Stewart had built up an on screen persona of affability, likeableness and general do gooding. It must have been a bit of a surprise to the film goers of the time to see him here, playing much the same character but with the added dimension of being hell bent on a mission of vengeance. Lin McAdam is a generally nice guy, but he has a mission to complete, he must find and kill the man who shot his father. He is almost blind to all else. It's a step away from Stewart's usual character, and even bigger steps into the dark side of the human soul would follow in later films.

As well as the story of McAdam's mission of vengeance this film also follows a gun, the Wnchester 73 of the title. One in a thousand, this is a special gun and everyone covets it. By rights it belongs to McAdam after he won it in a shooting contest, but it gets stolen and passes through many hands until it is used against him in the final shootout. This allows the director to give us a series of vignettes built around the people that have the gun, giving us some fascinating characterisations.

There is a generally fine supporting cast to lift this another notch (the weak link is Rock Hudson's Apache warrior). Millard Mitchell puts in another great turn as the solid and dependable companion of McAdam (why he never became a leading man I'll never know, he provided many memorable supporting performances), Dan Duryea is a charming unhinged wildman and Shelley Winters is perfect as the lady of the piece. The scene where she explains she knows what the last bullet is for is very memorable.

A great study of human nature, a thrilling story as the heroes deal with various Indian attacks and gunslingers, topped with an unexpected twist right at the end and one of the bust shoot-outs ever filmed, this is an out and out classic. But because better films followed it I am only going to give 4 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WINCHESTER '73 (1950), 1 Dec. 2011
By 
Dr S. S. Nagi "Nyrobe" (united kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Winchester '73 (1950) - Westerns Collection 2011 [DVD] (DVD)
This movie was first released in 1950(2011) in B/W, Fullscreen and runs 92 minutes. The sound and picture quality are very good. The film starts with Winchester rifle model '73 on display in Dodge City, Kansas 4.7.1896, as a first price for good shooting. Watching the display are Lin McAdam(JAMES STEWART) and his friend High Spade Frankie Wilson(MILLARD MITCHELL). They are looking for Mathew McAdam(STEPHEN McNALLY). They leave their horses as the stagecoach comes in. Marshall Wyatt Earp(WILL GEER) is trying to get Lola Manners(SHELLEY WINTERS) onto the stagecoach on account of the peoples wishes. She is told the Steve Miller(CHARLES DRAKE) will be sent to her. Marshall asks for Lin and Spades guns and shows them where to stay. They go to the saloon and suddenly Lin recognises Mathew who now calls himself Dutch Henry Brown. After lin wins the winchester '73, Mathew assaults him and runs away with the rifle. They arrive at an isolated Riker's Bar where Joe Lamont(JOHN McINTIRE) is selling guns. The winchester rifle is lost to Lamont and Mathew and his friends leave. When Lamont tries to sell the guns to Indian Chief Young Bill(ROCK HUDSON), he is killed and the Chief takes the rifle. Steve Miller meets up the Lola and they are chased by the Indians and arrive at an Army Camp. The Camp was surrounded by many Indians. Lin and Spade are also chased by the same Indians and they too land up at the same Army Camp, where they meet Lola again. In the morning, the Indians charge and the Chief is killed and the winchester is presented to Steve Miller. Steve and Lola arrive at the Farm house where Waco Johnnie Dean(DAN DURYEA) comes in shooting with his gang, chased by the local sheriff and his deputies. After a gun fight, Waco escapes with Lola to an isolated hideout of Dutch Henry Brown. Waco had killed steve and taken the winchester, but Dutch(Mathew) wants it back as his rifle. Dutch was planning to rob a bank at Tescosa.
This excellent story of STUART N LAKE is beautifully photogrphed in B/W by WILLIAM H DANIELS and masterly directed by great ANTHONY MANN. The action scenes are excellent. All the actors give brilliant performances. It is one of the all time great westerns. Watch it in beautiful HD on Sky classics.
DAN DURYEA was born on 23.1.1907 in White Plains, New York. He graduated at Cornell University in 1928. He made his name on Broadway play 'Dead End'. He moved to Hollywood in 1940. He established himself in films playing secondary roles as a foil, weak or annoyingly imature character, later to change to violent, yet sexy, bad guy of film noirs. He did many westerns and Winchester '73 was one of his best. He was married for 35 years to HELEN BRYAN, who died on 21.1.1967. They had 2 sons, PETER(actor) and RICHARD. Dan Duryea died on 7.6.1968, aged 61, of cancer, in Hollywood, California.
Watch and ENJOY.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some things a man has to do, so he does em., 15 April 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winchester 73 [DVD] (DVD)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a story of the Winchester Rifle Model 1873 "The Gun That Won The West" To cowman, outlaw, peace officer or soldier, the Winchester 73 was a treasured possession. An Indian would sell his soul to own one...

Winchester 73 is the first collaboration between director Anthony Mann and actor James Stewart, a duo that would go on to create a run of superior Westerns that added a new, psychological depth to the genre. The story sees Stewart as Lin McAdam pursuing the man who killed his father. Riding into Dodge City with his trusty friend, Johnny Williams {Millard Mitchell}, Lin runs into Dutch Henry Brown {Stephen McNally}, the man he wants. But with Wyatt Earp {Will Geer} having taken all the guns from those entering the town, both men are unable to have the shoot-out that they are ready for. The men instead square up in a competition to win a Winchester 73 rifle, a competition that Lin eventually wins. But before he can leave town with the magnificent prize, Dutch ambushes him, steals the rifle and skips town fast. As Lin sets off in hate filled pursuit of both man and rifle, the rifle will changed hands a number of times, with each time adding another dimension as the day of reckoning for all approaches.

Very much a benchmark for what became known as the so-called "psychological Western", Winchester 73 is basically a story of a decent man driven to borderline insanity by an event in his past. Tho shot in black and white {the only one of the duos Westerns that was} the landscapes are still breathtaking feasts for the eyes. The tone is set with the opening scene as Lin and Johnny on horseback, and in silhouette, amble over a hillside as they make their way to Dodge City. It's just the starting point that would see Mann use his vistas as a way of running concurrent with his characters emotional states.

Stewart gives one of his finest and most intense performances as McAdam, proving once and for all that he was one of Americas finest and most versatile actors. The support cast isn't too bad either. Shelley Winters is excellent as the sole female in amongst the machismo, while Mitchell, McNally, Geer and the always great Dan Duryea add further class to proceedings. There's even bit parts for Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson in here, tho the latter playing an Indian brave is a stretch too far.

Originally the film was a project for Fritz Lang, who even had the script ready to run. But Lang walked away from it, something that proved to be a blessing for Western fans. For as great as a director that Lang was, with Mann directing {and with a new script from Borden Chase & Robert Richards in hands} it set the wheels in motion to alter the course of the genre. Not only with the further efforts that Mann & Stewart produced, but also in who they influenced. The likes of Budd Boetticher, Nicholas Ray and Sam Fuller were all taking notes, and gleefully for the Western purists, they followed suit and carried the psychological torch still further.

A big hit at the box office back on release, Winchester 73 is a magnificent film that still packs a punch in the modern age. 9.5/10
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Winchester '73 (1950) ... Anthony Mann ... Universal Studios (2003)", 27 Dec. 2010
By 
J. Lovins "Mr. Jim" (Missouri-USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Winchester 73 [DVD] (DVD)
Universal Studios presents "WINCHESTER '73" (1950) (92 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Lin McAdam (James Stewart) and his friend High-Spade (Millard Mitchell) arrive in Dodge City for a shooting contest, in which the prize is a perfectly manufactured Winchester repeating rifle, referred to as "One of a Thousand" - a gun so fine that Winchester won't sell it --- Lin runs across Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally) in a saloon and the two would kill each other right there but for the fact that town marshal Wyatt Earp has everyone's guns --- Lin wins the rifle in an extraordinary marksmanship match-up with Brown, but the latter steals the prize from him and sets out across the desert --- Thus begins a battle of wits and nerves, and a pursuit to the death --- The roots and raw psychological dimensions of that chase are only exposed gradually, across a story arc that includes references to Custer's Last Stand, run-ins with marauding Indians, a heroic stand with a a shady but well-intentioned grifter and a meeting with murderous sociopath named Waco Johnny Dean, plus a romantic encounter with a young, golden-hearted frontier woman --- All of these story lines eventually get drawn together neatly and gracefully by director Anthony Mann, who balances the violence of the events with a lyrical, almost poetic visual language.

Written for the screen by Borden Chase who also scripted two other Stewart/Mann westerns: "Bend of the River" (1952) & "The Far Country" (1954) --- All three are classic James Stewart Westerns!

Under the production staff of:
Anthony Mann [Director[
Robert L. Richards [Screenwriter]
Borden Chase [Screenwriter]
Stuart N. Lake [Story]
Aaron Rosenberg [Producer]
Joseph Gershenson [Original Film Music]
William H. Daniels [Cinematographer]
Edward Curtiss [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 - Lin McAdam
Shelley Winters - Lola Manners
Dan Duryea - Waco Johnnie Dean
Stephen McNally - Dutch Henry Brown
Millard Mitchell - High Spade Frankie Wilson
Charles Drake - Steve Miller
John McIntire - Joe Lamont
Will Geer - Wyatt Earp
Jay C. Flippen - Sgt. Wilkes
Rock Hudson - Young Bull
John Alexander - Jack Riker
Steve Brodie - Wesley
James Millican - Wheeler
Abner Biberman - Latigo Means
Tony Curtis - Doan
James Best ... Crater

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: 92 min on DVD ~ Universal Studios ~ (05/06/2003)
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mann's first A movie is an first class act, 20 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Winchester 73 [DVD] (DVD)
One of the great Westerns, Winchester '73 is noteworthy film in many respects, not least because it marked the start of one of the great creative partnerships in the genre, that between director Anthony Mann and James Stewart. Mann had until this time been working successful in low budget films, crafting a series of B-noirs, which have a following on their own account today: titles such as T-Men (1947), Border Incident (1949) and Raw Deal (1948). 1950 brought his first big assignment with the current production, a film which many critics point to as marking the western's emergence into maturity during the decade.

It was also something of a career change for Stewart, whose many roles during his early career had been based around a friendly and frequently homespun persona. Only such films as the documentary noir Call Northside 777, of two years earlier, or odd moments during It's A Wonderful Life hinted at something darker, almost pathological, lurking beneath the amiable exterior. The series of Westerns made with Mann brought this something else to the surface; suddenly this was a dogged, vengeful Stewart, still playing honest men, but men who had often suffered a great wrong and were driven to put things right. (Hitchcock recognised this neurotic dimension to the actor as during the same period he also used him to great effect). Thus in The Man From Laramie (1955) the hero would have his livelihood burnt and be dragged behind a horse by a psychotic, while in Bend Of The River (1952) he is cast out to survive on his own from a wagon train.

As Lin McAdam in Winchester '73 he is already hunting someone who has wronged him: "...chasing him since I can't remember" and then, to add to it all, has a prize rifle stolen from him by his prey after an intense competition. The film focuses on the eponymous weapon as it passes through various hands and Stewart's parallel tracking of his human prey. In some ways his dogged perseverance reminds one of Ethan Edwards' in The Searchers (1956), where obsessive behaviour by a man searching for answers for matters as much internal as external also drives the plot.

McAdam's single-mindedness is a characteristic of many of Mann's Western heroes, a state of mind that approaches the unbalanced in The Naked Spur (1953). Of course McAdam is after getting back his rifle almost as much as he is after vengeance. Later films also feature the wandering weapon storyline - such as American Gun, or The Gun (1974) - the tale of a firearm passing through various hands provides a morality tale hedged around the prevalence of armaments. Winchester '73's central narrative thread has an entirely different purpose, one not generally concerned with social comment. When McAdam's gun is stolen the loss is seen in far more private, almost psychological terms, as if a piece of his personal honour is taken along with the rifle. In fact honour plays a large part in this film: it is either symbolically removed, as in the case of Dutch Henry Brown's early theft; much reduced as shown in the cowardice and subsequent humiliation of Charles Drake; or largely absent, as with the trader selling arms of questionable worth to the warring Indians. And of course besides McAdam's fury at the opening theft, what also drives him on is the dishonourable (because he's shot in the back by someone he trusted) loss of his father.

As critics such as Phil Hardy have noted, during the film McAdam encounters a series of potent father figures, such as Wyatt Earp, Sergeant Wilkes, and Lamont - the presence of who serves to echo and reinforce his own loss. To prove himself worthy of his late father in his own eyes, McAdams has to do is secure the something special he has lost and exact suitable vengeance. The look of the exhausted McAdam's face at the close of the film as he rejoins Lola (Shelley Winters) and his sidekick High Spade (Millard Mitchell) says it all.

In making Winchester '73, Mann was at last given the chance and the budget to make the most of his talents. His previous films had mostly been set amongst cramped and dangerous urban environments. Settling into a new genre he at once showed great response to landscape, and not just in the epic moments like the Indians' attack on Sergeant Wilkes' party. In many of his Westerns it is noticeable that the territory through which characters move is not just the geography of the west but also often a physical echo of the ongoing human drama, as exteriors reflect the emotional state of his characters. Thus at the start of the film we see McAdam moving through open vistas, before his first encounter set amidst the excited human clutter of Dodge. As events proceed, the landscape becomes more and more inhospitable until the film's climax fought out around and amidst bare rocks - a claustrophobic and harsh environment, aptly trapping the two adversaries in their uncompromising duel. Many traditional Westerns tended to save the psychological drama for interiors and the action, taken plain and simple, for outside. Mann's achievement was to resolve this pattern into something more subtle and expressive, opening the way for the deeper resonances in the genre which were to follow.

Winchester '73's plot, which involves several locations and a range of characters and events, could easily have proved episodic. Mann manages to draw all these elements together into a satisfying unity while still allowing the supporting actors to shine and do their thing. One standout is Dan Duryea, in an entirely characteristic performance as Waco Johnny Dean. Dean and Dutch Henry Brown (excellently done by the underrated Stephen McNally) provide excellent turns in villainy. There's a nice touch of symmetry too as the end draws near: McAdam, who had earlier been humiliated by Brown over a drink of milk back in Dodge, faces down Dean over another drink in the cantina.

The excellent DVD transfer shows the film in its best light, not least the splendid black and white photography. Mann rarely moves his camera, but instead shows mastery of composition within the frame and his direction of actors. The depth of focus benefits from the clear digital image, reproduced in the correct academy ratio. If this isn't enough to wet the appetite of any western fan, then there is an unmissable bonus. James Stewart recorded an interview commentary for the title when it appeared on laserdisc years back, and this is included - perhaps one of the very rare occasions that a representative of Hollywood's golden age appears in this way on a western DVD. (I can only otherwise think of Maureen O'Hara's commentary to the Region 1 special edition of Rio Grande.)
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