"Winchester '73 is one of the most enduring and popular films of James Stewart's career, for several reasons; it was the first of five teamings with brilliant, underrated director Anthony Mann, who retooled Stewart's drawling, 'aw-shucks' persona into a laconic, edgier, more flawed hero; it featured a brilliant cast, including Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Stephen McNally, John McIntyre, and, in VERY early appearances, Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis; visually, it is spectacular, one of the most beautiful Black and White films ever made, with deep-focus photography highlighting rugged Arizona settings that literally leap from the screen; and, most of all, it is a terrific variation of 'Cain and Abel', told through the premise of the search for a 'one-of-a-kind' rifle Stewart wins in a competition, then loses through treachery. It's the kind of film that offers new insights each time you view it, as the actions and motivations of 'good' brother Stewart and 'bad' brother McNally become better understood.What truly makes this DVD an 'essential', though, is the bonus track...Described as an 'interview' with Stewart, it is actually an audio commentary that runs through the film, offering not only his reflections about the making of Winchester '73, but insights about his career, working with John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, and his great friends Henry Fonda and John Wayne, even a nice story about his long-time mount, Pie. Recorded several years ago for the laserdisc edition of Winchester '73, it provides a rare opportunity to hear a screen legend reminisce (and makes you wish Wayne and Fonda had lived long enough to have offered personal observations about THEIR classic films!)This is a DVD NOT to be missed!"
Anthony Mann creates a classic
Mykal Banta | Boynton Beach, FL USA | 07/20/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The story goes that in 1950 Jimmy Stewart was looking around for something a little different for himself, something where he could play a character less folksy and warm. He sure did find it in this film, as well as all the other magnificent westerns he did with gritty, noir director, Anthony Mann (T-Men, Raw Deal, Railroaded, etc). This is the first of their collaborations.When the film was first shown to test audiences, there were titters in the crowd when Jimmy Stewart's name appeared in the credits. "Mr. Smith" in a western? Shooting people? Please. By the end of the film, the tittering was all done and Stewart had established himself as a viable western hero (although in truth the magic of these Mann/Stewart westerns is that the characters Stewart plays are hardly "heroic." They are usually driven, neurotic men, nearly shifty-eyed, with a mean streak a mile wide - bitter men, and always very, very angry and eager to kill. The basic set-up of this film is beautifully simple: Jimmy Stewart has a prize rifle stolen from him, a Winchester Model 1973 (which at the time the film takes place was state-of-the-art in the world of firearms), and he spends the rest of the movie hunting the man that stole it. The story unfolds, however, as the movie rolls quickly along to something much more complex, culminating in one of the finest shootouts in movie history. The two principal actors of the film, James Stewart and Stewart McNally, spent a great deal of time practicing with their rifles (in Stewart's case Mann often found him walking around the set with bleeding knuckles, the results of his hours of self-training working the classic lever-action Winchester). Their hard work paid of in a tremendous realism. Anthony Mann brought in cinematographer, William Daniels, for Winchester '73, a veteran who most notably had worked a great deal with Garbo in the 30's. Daniels brought his tremendous sense of lighting to the table to create one of the most beautiful looking Westerns of all time. Daniels' light, combined with Mann's unmatched visual sense, made things look nearly 3-demensional in their reality. When viewing this film, watch for the staggering long shots, or the scenes near dusk or at night. Pure texture and light - at once glamorous yet real. This film also has my favorite depiction of aging Western legend, Wyatt Earp, the Law in Dodge, played with easy authority by Will Greer. Greer always offers his suggestions to town folks with a warm smile, as when he asks Stewart to give up his gun in an early scene. There is always a bit of steel in the old gunfighter's eyes, though, and folks always do just as he suggests. Quickly. All in all a great treat and a must-have for any fan of the Western (or for that matter, any lover of movies). A true classic all the way. --Mykal Banta"
THE LIFE STORY OF A CLASSIC RIFLE
Mykal Banta | 09/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The rifle is a coveted prize at a western shooting contest hosted by the western legend, Wyatt Earp (Will Geer). It is a perfect Winchester that won't be sold, only won. Two brothers compete for the prize; both trained by the same man, one good, and one evil. Right prevails is the shootout.But Evil will not accept the results and steals the rifle. What follows then is a series of changes of hand for the "One of a Thousand" Winchester. From wily gun traders to Indian raiders to quick-draw outlaws, the gun's odyssey is followed in this classic western with the good brother (James Stewart) seeking not only to regain his treasure but to put an end to a lifelong obsession.Shelly Winters comes along for the wild ride and look for Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson in very unpredictable cameo appearances."
Cain and Abel
Mykal Banta | 06/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Along with a handful of other titles, this film is right at the summit of the great American Westerns ever made. It came entirely out of the blue as well. It was James Stewart's first serious Western (omitting "Destry Rides Again") and displayed a side of his character his Air Force buddies may have known about but precious few other people did. When Stewart threatens to break Dan Duryea's neck in a bar fight movie audiences must have been seriously taken aback. Doubly shocking is the fact that Stewart is out to gun down his outlaw brother for the murder of their father. Nor was Anthony Mann, the director, known for his Westerns, but this masterpiece simply could not be improved. The show is littered with great performances, especially John McIntire as the gun dealer, and Stewart sidekick Millard Mitchell, who made a huge impact in Hollywood during a very short career. Mitchell also appeared in "Twelve O'Clock High", "The Gunfighter", and "Singin' in the Rain" before dying of lung cancer in 1953."
`My mistake. I shot THROUGH it...'
Edward M. Erdelac | Valley Village, CA | 05/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie can do no wrong in my book.Two greats, Anthony Mann and Jimmy Stewart, team up to deliver this two-fister about an obsessed man tracking a killer from his own past while his friend Millard Mitchell does his best to keep him from going over the edge. Shelly Winters does a nice turn as the poor gal. Stephen McNally is oily as the main bad guy, and Dan Duryea comes off like Johnny Udo (from the original Kiss Of Death) in chaps.The story really heats up when Stewart wins a shooting contest in which Wyatt Earp officiates (watch for the postage stamp across the nickel - some heroic marskmanship here) and gets his prized Winchester rifle stolen for his trouble. The Winchester does a hot potato act between badmen and Indians (Rock Hudson shows up as a war chief, in a scene where Tony Curtis dons the blue wool as a cavalry buck), and finally winds up in a climactic, hair raising shootout in a jumble of rocks above the desert. You can FEEL the bullets whizzing by.Especially love the scene where Lin encounters Waco Johnnie Dean (read: Johnny Udo)in a bar and displays a decided lack of patience for the young bad man's showboating... There aren't many places to find good old Jimmy Stewart coming off harder (but do try `Flight Of The Phoenix'...wow!).PS - This DVD is a good buy - the print they used tends to be a little less than pristine here and there, but it has got a commentary track with Jimmy Stewart on it! How did they do this? It seems Jimmy might have been watching the Laserdisc. His anecdotes about the old studio system and incites into acting are great. Especially like the stories about his hat (used in various westerns for twenty years) and horse, Pie (same as above). "Huh...this laser thing is very interesting..." Jimmy Stewart.Great suprise. Great DVD."