I give this one a 6.5/10
It is somewhat frustrating cuz there is enough there to keep you interested; at no time did I think that I was gonna turn it off. Maybe that's just cuz the lanscapes are so beautiful that I can look at it for hours no matter what! But there are too many things the movie doesn't do right.
-- Firstly, this is probably the first movie ever that began with an opening song with lyrics that i actually enjoyed. I instinctively forward these openings whenever they come on, cuz they are always so annoying. But this one is just terrific, sung by Julie London. Later on in the movie, you see her singing the same song. She sings so beautifully, maybe they actually should have had her do a different song in the movie, rather than just having the same track as in the opening titles. Heck, maybe they should have even had her singing more in the movie! Her singing is just beautiful. (I did not know, until I looked at her Wikipedia page just now after seeing the movie, that London was actually more well-known as a singer than an actress). Happily, that song is available on iTunes; I just bought it.
-- London's performance is decent enough. (I never thought she was that hot; she kind of looks like she could be Lee Van Cleef's twin sister. But) she is ok as an actress.
-- Perhaps the biggest mistake in the movie is the absolutely awful casting of John Cassavetes. He is just plain awful. I was praying that Charkles McGraw would kill him their duel just so I wouldn't have to watch him anymore. He doesn't look in any way like he belongs in the Wild West; he looks like he belongs on Jersey Shore. Certainly doesn't look anything close to the WASPs of the Wild West (or at least the Westerns). And his acting is just plain terrible. I guess he is supposed to be somewhat annoying, but the trick is being able to portray that kinda person without grating on the viewer. Cassavetes singlehandedly limits the potential of this movie.
-- I agree with CJ about Charles McGraw; he is just terrific. What a great face, jaw, and voice! Whether in wsterns or noirs, it is always ajoy to watch him. And Robert Taylor is terrific in the lead. Donald Crisp delivers his usual very good performance, though the writing for his character isn't always very believable. (I don't think a Western cattle baron at the time would have been so accommodating to a squatter/Yankee/farmer; at least if you believe most Westerns
One thing I have to disagree with CJ on is Royal Dano; I did not like him at all here.
-- The best thing this film has going for it are the spectacular landscapes. So beautiful, I never tired of watching this movie, even when Cassavetes went on another annoying rant. I thought of muting him and just looking at the scenery
) Simply amazing. The entire production design was really good: the saloon was great, the whole town was nice. It looks like they built a whole town in the mud. The saloon interior was nice
-- And as CJ mentioned, some of the shots look processed. Several times you have a beautiful long shot in a wonderful landscape, and then they shoot a closeup and you can just tell that the background is not real, but a rear projection or sumthin. I wonder if perhaps that was necessary cuz they couldn't use the sound in such long shots, so for the dialogue parts they did it in closeup in studio? Who knows. But you definitely have to try to ignore several bad processed shots.
-- And finally, the editing of the first duel is really bad: You see McGraw ready to draw, Taylor scream, McGraw turn to look at Taylor, then they cut back to the earlier shot of McGraw ready to draw, then back to the one of him turning.... It is a really bad editing job. It's the sort of thing that they figure you will see in theaters once, and weren't counting on people having dvd players and Step buttons to slow down the action when the shot looks so weird, and see that indeed, it is a terrible editing job at that moment.
-- The "CinemaScope and MetroScope" widescreen looks nice, but there are a few interior shots where it looks like part of the picture is a slightly different color, like the left side of the screen is darker than the right. I am not sure if the film was damaged, or maybe it was just the lighting.