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Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Bravados (1958)

A stranger (Gregory Peck) arrives in a small town to witness the hanging of four men (Stephen Boyd, Lee Van Cleef, Henry Silva, Albert Salmi), who are to be hung for a bank robbery and a slaying. When the men escape, he is determined to track them down and see justice served. Not for the bank robbery, he has his own reasons for vengeance. One of the best westerns of the 1950s, posterity has not yet caught up with THE BRAVADOS. This dark and gripping tale of revenge should have a better reputation than it currently holds and Peck's Jim Douglas is not all that dissimilar from John Wayne's Ethan Edwards in Ford's THE SEARCHERS. Peck gave some of his very best performances under Henry King's direction in films like THE GUNFIGHTER and 12 O'CLOCK HIGH and he's excellent under King's assured hand here too. It's a brutal and at times relentless western that only falters toward the second to last scene with Peck and the town priest (Andrew Duggan). Its moralistic sanctimoniousness would have marred the film if it weren't for the unstated irony of the last scene. The film has a beauty of a score by Hugo Friedhofer and Alfred Newman though for some reason the underscore is credited to Lionel Newman. With Joan Collins, Barry Coe, George Voskovec, Gene Evans and Kathleen Gallant.

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