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"Gary Cooper stars in this intense Western as a former outlaw, now reformed, who finds himself trapped by circumstances with his former gang. Cooper is on a train that is held up by the gang, and left behind, he, Julie London, and Arthur O'Connell meet up with the gang and witness firsthand their brutality and violence. The gang is headed by Cooper's uncle, Lee J. Cobb, who is pleased to see Cooper return. He's planning a big bank heist, the heist to end all heists, and wants Cooper to be a part of it like old times. Of course, Cooper must find a way out. The tension in the film never lets up, as the threat of violence hangs in every scene. Cooper is fine in one of his last performances, portraying a man who has tried hard to overcome his past, finding himself in a situation where he must literally fight for his survival. London also does well as the saloon singer finally experiencing love, giving a quietly moving performance. Cobb is explosive as usual, helping to give the film some of its tension and edge.Man Of The West is well photographed in colour, with empty spaces looming everywhere in the backdrop of the struggle. Director Anthony Mann keeps everything simple, if not elemental, not shying away from portraying the brutality of the characters and the situation. Other than an obviously "stagey" fight between Cooper and one of the gang (lots of easy to spot fake punches), there is a dark realism throughout the movie. Man Of The West may not be a very well known Western, but it deserves to be seen."
This is a Magnificent Film
Jack | Chicago | 03/22/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is truly a magnificent film. Acting -- especially Gary Cooper's Link Jones, a man who is drawn back into his earlier life as a killer -- and direction and script and cinemaphotography, they are all flawless. The only flaw is in this video, from MGM/UA. I've written them, trying to get them to release this in letterbox and DVD, all to no avail. Do not buy this pan-and-scan version, since director Anthony Mann took full advantage of the wide screen to tell his story. In the pan-and-scan version, Cooper is missing from much of the action. This is because it is a typically tight-lipped Cooper performance, thus he is lopped out of the frame -- even though he is central to every single scene in the entire film! This is a magnificent film which is deserving of a better fate than MGM/UA video distribution. TCM shows it in letterbox, catch it there."
Brilliant Cooper Western Ahead Of Its Time
Chris | 05/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here's a brilliant western. More than 30 years before Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven", Gary Cooper, writer Reginald Rose and director Anthony Mann explored the same violent terrain -- that of a reformed killer forced to face the monster within one more time. Mann had made several wsterns with Jimmy Stewart, but this is his masterpiece. Almost Shakespearean in its grand, tragic themes, "Man Of The West" deserves mention with the greatest westerns of all time."
A Classic Film
Chris | Boston | 03/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Man Of The West is a classic. Gary Cooper dominates a sterling cast with his powerful portrayal of Link Jones, a former killer who has long since suppressed the demons within. However, when he meets up with his Uncle and former partner, Dock Tobin (Lee J. Cobb, brilliant) he is forced to confront the fact that there is still a killer inside him. There is a brutal fight between Cooper and Jack Lord which is one of the meanest, most vicious fights I've ever seen in film. The only flaw, as others have pointed out, is that this video version is not letterbox. Avoid it and wait for TCM to show it in its original widescreen format. Better yet, why doesn't MGM/UA simply release a letterbox version? Cooper made this back-to-back with another classic, The Hanging Tree. But Warner Home Video has seen fit to remove it from distribution here in the U.S. It's available in Europe and Canada, but not here. Idiots!"
Message for MGM: Why Pan & Scan?
Chris | 12/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently saw a gorgeous widescreen print of this film on TCM. This grim, brooding tale of disillusionment in the old west, like Sam Fuller's "Forty Guns" one year before it, shattered many of the conventions of the Western and helped reinvent that genre, a decade before "The Wild Bunch" or Leone's "Man With No Name Trilogy". Yes, Anthony Mann's films are violent (his direction always exhibits a brutal directness), but the body count is much lower than in any John Ford movie I've seen. It's just that Mann understood that dead bodies are heavy, they have weight, and must obey certain laws of gravity. I don't think it was the killing that alarmed most people, but the effects of that killing, as both heard in the loud thud of bodies hitting the ground and as seen in the way men must writhe around and mix with the earth as they die. Though MAN OF THE WEST was filmed in glorious CinemaScope, the only version available on vhs is an abysmal pan&scan, which is particularly unacceptable in a picture that aims to express the distance between men, and the barrenness of the landscape, by dislocating much of the action to the extreme edges of the frame. This works only if the action is shown in wide angle, but MGM, unfortunately, has shamefully compromised Mann's vision. If TCM has access to a print of the film that preserves the proper CinemaScope ratio, why can't MGM release it on DVD in anamorphic widescreen? I highly recommend MAN OF THE WEST, but don't bother with this pan&scan vhs version."