Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 April 2012
King Vidor didn't make too many westerns, which makes this one something of a rarity. His last outing in the genre prior to this one was the unforgettable epic "Duel in the Sun", more affectionately remembered as "Lust in the Dust", an extravagant hymn to sexual excess and melodrama that caused moral outrage on it's release in 1946. Vidor indulges himself again in this one, which is also full of sexual tension between drifter Kirk Douglas and his beautiful but manipulative ranch boss played by Jeanne Crain. It has to be said that the sexual excesses are somewhat more restrained in this film.

In the film Douglas is hired by Crain, and the two enjoy a torrid affair of convienience. Crain decides to expand her herd, and in time honoured tradition the local ranchers put up barbed wire fences to protect their grazing land, which leads to the inevitable confrontation. Which side will Douglas choose to fight for, given that he has his own good reasons to hate the wire? Or will he just drift on to Canada, where there is no wire? The centre of the film is the feisty relationship between Douglas and Crain, although not quite in the same feisty league as that between Peck and Jones in Duel. In a subsidiary relationship Douglas befriends a young cowboy whom he takes under his wing to educate in the ways of the west, a theme that harkens back to Vidor's earlier film "The Champ" starring the great Wallace Beery. Vidor, in a nice touch, even finds time to poke fun at Cecil B De Mille's much remembered signature prudish 'bathtub' scenes.

The film has a strong cast which also has the fading Clair Trevor as a dance-hall hostess. Trevor had come down a long way since her lead role in the seminal "Stagecoach" in 1939 but still gives it her all. Reliable stalwart Jay C Flippen plays a ranch foreman and the brilliant craggy featured Richard Boone plays the bad guy yet again. Jeanne Crain lacks the simmering sexuality to be a scheming temptress and William Campbell is lightweight as the young cowboy. Character actor Jack Elam makes yet another all too brief appearance as a knife murderer, not even getting a mention on the credits. Douglas gets the opportunity to display some physical prowess and some nifty gun twirling. Douglas was always watchable, and the feisty broody role suited his acting style. Borden Chase whose crowning achievement was his screenplay for "Red River" co-wrote this one. The film is certainly formulaic, but sometimes I actually find that quite reassuring. I found it an entertaining and enjoyable watch. Far from a classic but enlivened by Douglas's energetic efforts and a strong support cast. This is a good bare bones Pegasus release, and has no picture quality issues which this company has been guilty of in the past. Well worth buying for the western fan. A generous four stars.
22 Comments| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 August 2016
I must admit, as I was watching King Vidor’s 1955 Western I was assuming the titular 'star’ must refer to the rebellious, 'lawless’ attitude of Kirk Douglas’ cattle-man, Dempsey Rae, en route from Texas to Wyoming, looking for work. Of course, had I been listening more closely to Frankie Laine’s theme song, I would have realised it related to Rae’s penchant for wandering (unguided), an unconstrained free spirit. Therein lies Vidor’s (and noted co-writer Borden Chase’s) intriguing backstory for Rae, the barbed-wire fencing used to delineate cattlemen’s territory having been the past cause of personal tragedy for the cattleman and the fencing’s gradual migration north having prompted his move in the same direction. Changing times and the progress of ‘civilisation’ are running themes for Vidor’s film, in fact, as the nature of 'open range’ ranching and the advent (from the 'progressive’ East) of domestic niceties (indoor bathrooms!) each feature in the drama here.

Vidor’s film is also notable for its diversity, with comedic, romantic and even musical content to the fore (though Kirk Douglas 'playing the banjo and singing’ is perhaps a step too far). Douglas is, as ever, reliable as the initially cool, dispassionate traveller, taking William Campbell’s impetuous whippersnapper, Jeff ‘Texas’ Jimson, under his wing, before taking up with Jeanne Crain’s ambitious new ranch-owner, Reed Bowman, who is looking to expand her cattle empire into the (fenced-off) land of the locals, assisted by interloping 'Texas ruffians’, known to Rae. Romance, paternalism (for Jeff) and his haunting past (substantiated in a sudden chest-baring!) provide conflicting influences for Rae and Vidor/Chase’s drama moves along at a good pace (albeit without the level of character sophistication of earlier Chase works such as Red River or Winchester ’73). Outside of Douglas, some of the acting is a little stilted and the 'baddies’ rather one-dimensional, but there is a nice turn by Jay C Flippen as ranch foreman Strap Davis and an early (uncredited) cameo for Jack Elam. Looks-wise, Vidor’s film certainly has its moments, noted cinematographer Russell Metty giving us a spectacular cattle stampede sequence and one or two notable framing shots – a highlight being the Once Upon A Time In The West-like shot of three figures silhouetted against an oncoming train during the film’s opening sequence.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 22 June 2012
Man Without a Star is an excellent 50's western with Kirk Douglas in one of his most memorable roles. Other reviewers have went over the storyline and by now, you should know it is a wonderful movie, and I highly recommend it to everyone. The rest of this review will be over quality and other releases.
Previously I bought a region free Chinese import just so I owned a copy of this great movie. Too bad the Chinese import wasn't great! It was 4:3 pan and scan, and the colors were awful. So naturally when my wife bought me a region free dvd player, this was on my short list of PAL dvds that arn't availible here in the states (along with Backlash, Two Rode Together, The Last Sunset, and Western Union) I was more than estatic when I recieved my movies. The copy of Man Without a Star was wonderful. Presented in its original aspect ratio (a major plus for any movie buff) The print was spectacular. The technicolor print is sharp and vibrant (just what you expect out of a 50's western) The dark scenes (most notably the train scene, early in the movie) are very nice, it is realistically dark with enough light to see what is happening. In contrast, while watching the Chinese import the night scenes are way too dark, almost unwatchable. But the technicolor process really shine in the great outdoors. Whether in the middle or town, or on the wide open trail, the vivid technicolor produces a very retro americana feel to the movie. Its hard to describe, but it's what us western buffs really enjoy in these old 50's westerns. My hats are off to the boys and girls at Pegasus Entertainment for putting out some really great westerns and not skimping out on the quality. The disk does not have any special features included. No trailer, no bios, nothing. This didn't bother me at all, but it may for others. The packaging is also very nice with a very informative summary on back and a quality clear dvd case (with current and future releases on the inside of the insert.)
Overall, I highly recommend this classic to all. Had I known then what I know now, I would have owned a region free player years ago. Once again, thanks a million to Pegasus Entertainment. With the two movies I've bought from them, they have gained a loyal customer.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 1 July 2014
Kirk Douglas is in his prime in this excellent, subversive epic, directed by King Vidor. Douglas plays a drifter who hooks up with a young traveler (William Campbell) and then starts work on a ranch with a new, strong-willed female boss (a marvelously foxy Jeanne Crane). What gives this movie most interest to modern eyes are some gay undertones, as well as later moments of more overtly suggestive heterosexual dialogue between the randy Douglas and his new employer - reminding this viewer a little of Bogart and Bacall's wordplay in The Big Sleep. A young Richard Boone plays a more conventional heavy brought in to supervise the impending rage war, but even his menacing presence is largely sidelined by the real attentions of the film laying elsewhere. While Douglas' character is outwardly defined by his hatred of any barbed wire enclosing the open range (previous experience of which he has etched across his torso like marks of passion), it is clear that Man Without a Star is more about freedom of the libido to range as it will, constrained only by the various explicit and implicit passions between the principal characters. Claire Trevor, playing Douglas' old flame, is part of a strong support cast which also includes Jay C Flippen. Douglas gets to sing and is a dynamo on screen. Script co-written by Borden Chase.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 November 2010
Man Without A Star is directed by King Vidor and adapted by Borden Chase & D. D. Beauchamp from the Dee Linford novel. It stars Kirk Douglas, Jeanne Crain, Claire Trevor, William Campbell & Richard Boone. Photographed by Russell Metty in Technicolor around the Thousand Oaks area in California, with the title song warbled by Frankie Laine.

Dempsey Rae (Douglas) is easy going and a lover of life, so much so he has no qualms about befriending young hot head Jeff Jimson (Campbell). The pair, after a scare with the law, amble into town and find work at a ranch owned by the mysterious Reed Bowman. Who after finally showing up turns out to be a lady (Crain), with very ambitious plans. As sexual tensions start to run high, so do tempers, as the boys find themselves in the middle of a range war.

It's all very conventional stuff in the grand scheme of range war Western things, but none the less it manages to stay well above average in spite of a tricky first quarter. For the fist part Vidor and Douglas seem to be playing the film for laughs, with the actor mugging for all he is worth. Add in the wet behind the ears performance of Campbell and one wonders if this is going to be a spoof. But once the lads land in town and the girls show up (Trevor classy, Crain smouldering), the film shifts in gear and starts to get edgy with Vidor proving to have paced it wisely. The thematics of era and lifestyle changes, here signified by barbed wire, are well written into the plot. While interesting camera angles and biting photography keep the mood sexually skew whiff. Boone lifts proceedings with another fine villain performance, and Jay C. Flippen in support is as solid as he almost always was. 7/10
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 28 May 2013
Frankie Laine sings the title song(Always a good start!)I think the westerns of the mid-fifties were the best and this is up there as one of them.Douglas here is befriended by youngster William Campbell who meet whilst travellin the cow coaches,riding a train,always a great character actor or sidekick.Douglas takes him under his wing and they get themselves employed as cowhands,you also have Richard Boone playing as he always played best,the villain of the part as Douglas moves from one ranch to another because of his DISLIKE of barbed wire.Theres is a couple of hairy scenes I think that took it from universal viewing to a PG for the two barbed wire incidents that Douglas character detests,but it is family viewing for sure.There are smiles along the way,few fisstycuffs and a tad of romance and some nice scenery to be had,also an "in joke!"about an indoor privy!!is quite funny.Douglas as always is very watchable and enjoyable as is his friendship with Campbell as the kid who tags along and looks up to him.An all round pleasant watch.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 December 2012
This 1955 movie is a fairly routine western about the range wars that developed as people surged west in establishing land to live off in America. Dempsey Rae (Kirk Douglas) is a cowboy who is drifting his way around the territories of the west. He befriends another lone cowboy, Jeffrey Jimson (William Campbell), when the latter gets thrown off a train they are both riding. They both go to work for range foreman Strap Davis (J.C. Flippen) who is himself employed by a pretty but ruthless landowner from the east, Reed Bowman (Jeanne Crain). Bowman is intent upon seizing as many cattle as she can together with land to graze them on. At the time, the country is just open prairie, but a few of the smaller landowners band together and try to keep a parcel of land for themselves to graze their few cattle. They do this by closing off the land with barbed wire. Much as Rae is attracted to Bowman, and much as he hates the use of barbed wire, encouraged by his girlfriend Idonee (Claire Trevor) he sides with the smaller cattlemen. A factor in his decision is also that Bowman has hired an old enemy, Steve Miles (Richard Boone) as a more ruthless foreman than Davis. It's an entertaining film, but it has nothing really noteworthy to commend it. It was directed by King Vidor.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 23 November 2011
A drifter (Kirk Douglas) hooks up with a young cowpoke (William Campbell, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY) while riding the rails. When they both get hired as cattle ranch hands, trouble brews when the new and ruthless ranch owner (Jeanne Crain) decides to usurp the grazing lands for herself. This nifty western directed by King Vidor (DUEL IN THE SUN) is a superior effort that needs a wider audience to solidify its reputation. This was Vidor's first wide screen film and he was lucky to have that wizard Russell Metty (WRITTEN ON THE WIND) behind the camera. The film foreshadows the westerns that were to come (particularly in the 1960s) dealing with the transition of the Old West and how emerging civilization would change it forever. The casting of Crain, usually the sweet natured ingenue, as the hard and calculating ranch owner was inspired. With Claire Trevor, Richard Boone as the villain, Jay C. Flippen, Mara Corday, Sheb Wooley, Myrna Hansen, Jack Elam and Malcolm Atterbury.

The Umbrella DVD courtesy of Australia is a vivid, strong transfer in a wide screen aspect ratio of 1.85 when 2 to 1 would have been more appropriate.
0Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 27 September 2017
excellent quality and very good film to boot. This film starring Kirk Douglas is very much underrated.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 2 January 2018
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)