TSPDT Greatest Films #907 The Far Country (Anthony Mann, 1954)
"James Stewart and Walter Brennan are Jeff Webster and Ben Tatum, a loner and his sidekick, who figure to get rich quick by selling a herd of cattle at a fancy price in this tale set in the wild gold rush days of Dawson."
The coloured Westerns of Anthony Mann are sublime achievements of wilderness moviemaking and true heart Americans. James Stewart as Jeff Webster portrays a man who will learn to think outside of himself and his best friend. His greed of wanting to make easy money will play against him and make him change to become a better human being. He will learn how to help, love and care for other people.
Only for the shots of the landscapes The Far Country is worth the looking for . The themes are classic to Westerns, but the vast offer of this genre makes it a Highly recommended picture. Mann treats of themes like loyalty and openess on the world, themes that the great John Ford exploited in his Westerns too. However, Mann reinterpreted those themes and gave to them his own taste. He gives to the landscape all the rude wintery looks that the Jasper National Park could give him. I would categorize Anthony Mann as a director of locations, maybe one of the best from his generation. He his one of the few American directors of his time to let the environment and the context of creation become a whole character in the movie. Far from using improvisations Mann got probably inspired from the grey rocks and the white glaciers.
While watching The Far Country you have the feeling that you are with the characters bringing the goods to the miners at Dawson. You actually care for them and want them to succeed at their task.
I have read lots of praised about Anthony Mann's underapreciated career not only in the Western genre with the wonderful Winchester 73', Bend of the River, Man of the West, The Man From Laramie, The Naked Spur but also for his excellent Noirs. He will be one of the many directors you probably will read more about in the future here on Le Mot du Cinephiliaque.