Winchester ’73 (1950)

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James Stewart and Anthony Mann made a few quality westerns together and this is probably the best of them.

Winchester ’73 has everything a fan of the old fashioned western could want and more; it starts off with a sharpshooting tournament overseen by an unusually machismo free and jovial Wyatt Earp – nicely played by Will Geer – and goes onto an encounter with a cardsharp, an Indian war party, a sassy music hall girl, a Stagecoach-style cavalry siege, a gunslinger heading a ruthless gang and a bank robbery; all cleverly linked by the ownership of the eponymous rifle. The plot is by it’s very nature rather episodic, but the performances are all first rate – including cameos by Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis in early roles – and the high contrast black & white photography is extremely effective.

A minor classic of the genre.

7.5/10

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