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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
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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