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Broken Lance
Broken Lance
Actors: Spencer Tracy, Robert Wagner, Jean Peters, Richard Widmark, Katy Jurado
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Genres: Westerns, Drama
NR     2005     1hr 36min

The feisty, domineering cattle baron Matt Devereaux (Tracy) rules his vast empire with a ruthless hand. Because Matt's greatest love id for his Indian wife, Princess (Jurado) and their son Joe, Matt's three sons from a pr...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Spencer Tracy, Robert Wagner, Jean Peters, Richard Widmark, Katy Jurado
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Creators: Joseph MacDonald, Dorothy Spencer, Sol C. Siegel, Philip Yordan, Richard Murphy
Genres: Westerns, Drama
Sub-Genres: Westerns, Love & Romance
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 05/24/2005
Original Release Date: 09/25/1954
Theatrical Release Date: 09/25/1954
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 36min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish

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Member Movie Reviews

Peter Q. (Petequig)
Reviewed on 2/20/2011...
Great Spencer Tracy Western...even better Robert Wagner.

Movie Reviews

Friendly witness to a changing West.
darragh o'donoghue | 03/27/2002
(3 out of 5 stars)

"'Broken Lance' has many admirers, and there are many good things about this sober Western. The film has been called an updated 'King Lear' - an all-powerful, tyrannical father unwisely cedes control (land) to his children, all turning against him except for the youngest, who is the most ill-used - but the adaptation is loose and mercifully unliteral: there are no raging storm scenes or impertinently wise Fools, just a grandeur-exuding atmosphere of a great man and the power he created declining. Though filmed in Fox's ugly Technicolour - that muddy colour that would be called 'lurid' if it didn't yearn for the respectable - there is an intelligent compositional eye, filling the landscape with dramatic and symbolic imagery. The prologue is particularly striking - a moody young man, Robert Wagner, released from three years in prison, rejects a financial offer by brothers eager to be rid of him. The journey he takes into the past is one of progressive decay and danger - first he is forcibly brought to the governer, in whose building gleams an imposing portrait of his father. When he visits his father's land, with all its traces of former activity abandoned, he is shot at from a distnace by a man who turns out to be an Indian friend -- the surreal shot of a seemingly self-standing gateway in an empty plain points to the importance of this sequence, as a kind of mythical portal into another realm; when he finally enters his family home, it is a ghost house, a gothic ruin, its dereliction shrouded in shadow. Like the films noirs with which director Huac Dmytryk made his name, the movie begins with an end; a heavy air of fatalism hangs over the subsequent long flashback.What probably most appeals to fans is the film's (relative) political sophistication - as a backdrop to the usual Oedipal structures is a portrait of the West as it moves from a mythical plane into the modern era. It especially highlights two problems that would blight the nation in the next century - race and advanced capitalism. Spencer Tracy is an Irishman whose second wife is the daughter of a Cherokee chief. He is too important a landowner to ignore, so the locals refer to her as Spanish; the wives of these friends are nevertheless terminally indisposed whenever he gives parties. Of his four sons, the elder three from his first marriage, his favourite is the youngest, Wagner, through whose eyes the film unravels, and on whom centres the crises of race (he is a half-breed who loves a WASP whose father disapproves) and property. The actual catastrophe of the film occurs when a copper company on Tracy's land dumps refuse in his river, poisoning his herd. A fight at their headquarters, in part sparked by a racist comment directed at Wagner, leads to a court case, to offset the risks of which, Tracy is advised to divide the land between his sons. The old pioneers who tamed the land have been superceded, leaving only division and hatred in their wake.You have got to admire a Western that interweaves its themes intelligently and without sensation (although a ridiculous coda stand-off between two brothers nearly ruins the good work). The restrained use of music and the insistence on stillness (intimating burgeoning violence) adds a maturity to the action. The treatment of the Indians is sensitive for the time, with the relationship beween Tracy and Katy Jurado clearly signalled as a loving and positive thing. The title indicates the film's theme, the (1950s?) failure of authority, family and masculinity.Still, I found the film unsatisfying. This is partly due to miscasting - Wagner is too wooden to carry the film's moral weight; his role should have gone to the nervy, brilliant Richard Widmark, riveting as his resentful older brother who finally turns against his father's abuse. But it is mostly due to the stodgy direction which often confuses the sombre with the plain slow. Compared to the similarly-themed 'Gunman's Walk', 'Lance' lacks verve or true insight."
Broken Lance
Steven Hellerstedt | 07/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"When it's good, BROKEN LANCE (1954) is a sprawling story about the rise and fall of cattle baron Matt Devereaux (Spencer Tracy), color by DeLuxe, in Stereophonic Sound, and, most important of all, it's filmed in CinemaScope. Borrowing feuding and greedy children from King Lear and a Native American wife, and half a title, from the influential James Stewart vehicle, Broken Arrow, it's an entertaining near-classic.
Matt Devereaux is one of those larger-than-life pioneers whose success makes him an anachronism. Parcels of his land, once simply a buffet board for his 50,000-head herd of cattle, is now being leased out to oil and mining concerns. There was a time when men like Devereaux would string up cattle rustlers on the spot and the local marshal, assuming he was within a hundred miles and sober, was probably glad to be rid of the bother. Back then whatever Devereaux pushed against yielded. But the successful pioneer plants the seed of his own extinction. The copper found on Devereaux's land need men to dig it, and men bring civilization and the rule of law. The unfiltered waste of a copper mine dumped into a stream pollute the water and kill cattle. Devereaux is not the type to calmly negotiate when forty of his cattle are found poisoned. Back then Devereaux's actions brought results; now they simply usher in tragedy.
While never losing sight of Devereaux's impulsive and sometimes brutal personality, Tracy is able to give the character enough warmth to maintain the audience's sympathies. Katy Jurado, who received an Oscar nomination as Señora Devereaux is little more than a minor satellite in the Great Man's orbit, stoic and ever-suffering. Frankly, I thought Señora Devereaux was a pretty one-note character, one which Jurado handles well enough but not one that seems particularly memorable or Oscar-worthy. Robert Wagner plays the pivotal role of Joe Devereaux, Matt's `half-breed' son by Señora Devereaux and clearly his favorite. Wagner, as was his wont, is painfully stiff in a role that in abler hands would have probably would have filled out the tragic qualities of the story. The other three sons from Matt's first marriage are played by Richard Widmark, Hugh O'Brien, and Earl Holliman. O'Brien and Holliman aren't much more than set dressing (although Holliman would have been a better choice, a much better choice, to play Joe). Widmark, as the resentful, scheming and devious elder son ably holds his own with Tracy, and their scenes together are high points of a movie that at times dips perilously close to melodrama.
The print is in very good condition and the dvd includes the full-screen and widescreen versions of this movie. Watch the widescreen version. Cinematographer Joe MacDonald painted a beautiful movie and director Edward Dmytryk makes use of the whole screen, favoring long, unbroken scenes uninterrupted by close-up or cuts to reaction shots. Just two actors moving through space and working a scene. When it's Tracy and Spencer squaring off, it's a joy to behold. Strong recommendation, especially for fans of traditional, large scale westerns.

Forrest C. Hopson | Burnsville, NC USA | 01/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Broken Lance" opens with a lone coyote running through the desert terrain and then onto the prison release of Robert Wagner, as he's ordered to come into town to see the Governor. This is one of the best westerns of it's era, following close to "The Searchers," and `The Big Country." Spencer Tracy gives an incredible performance as Matt Devereaux, husband to an Indian princess, father of four sons, and owner of a cattle ranch empire. Richard Widmark plays the eldest son, who is jealous of his half-breed brother, Robert Wagner, and is set on bringing his father down. "Broken Lance" is one of those western's that gives an authentic feel to it's characters and most important, the material it's handling. Spencer Tracy is very entertaining as his character is being questioned in a court room scene. His answers to the Prosecution's questions are pure delight. Katy Jurado plays Spencer Tracy's Indian princess wife, with a warm and caring spirit that is most entertaining. Their scenes together are both touching and genuine. "Broken Lance" has both widescreen and fullscreen formats, I watched the widescreen version for it's depth and full scope of the great western scenery. The transfer is clean and sharp and the sound is too. I highly recommend "Broken Lance," especially to Spencer Tracy fans, as well as "The Searchers (1956)," "The Big Country (1958)," and "Duel in the Sun (1946).""