4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Dont shoot the "garrulous old codger" if you want to live.,
This review is from: Far Country [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
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.