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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Warlock (1959)

In a small Utah mining town, the citizens hire a professional gunfighter (Henry Fonda) to protect them from a gang of cowboys who kill anyone from getting in their way. The gunfighter brings his own henchman (Anthony Quinn) with him but when an official deputy (Richard Widmark) is appointed, it is inevitable there will be a showdown. Based on the novel by Oakley Hall, this is a first rate "adult" western. The relationships between the five main characters (Dorothy Malone and Dolores Michaels are the women) are complex and layered. Notably a none too subtle gay subtext to the Fonda/Quinn relationship. The townspeople as a group are also more detailed than the usual stereotypical western. At times, engaging in revolting behavior (like lynch mobs) but at times, standing up and doing themselves proud (watching the deputy's back). Edward Dmytryk (THE CAINE MUTINY) directs with a strong grip on the narrative and Joseph MacDonald's CinemaScope lensing makes nice use of the Utah exteriors. With Tom Drake, Wallace Ford, Frank Gorshin, DeForest Kelley, Richard Arlen, Regis Toomey, Ann Doran and June Blair.

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