Monday, February 16, 2009

7th Art: Winchester '73 (1950)

If you'd enjoy watching a movie with lots of references to folks like Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Dutch Henry, Sitting Bull, Buffalo Bill and George Custer, then "Winchester '73" was made for you. It's a great western, and James Stewart is excellent in his role as sharpshooter Lin McAdam, as usual.

The more I watch those classic westerns, the more I realize however that I tend to prefer the roles given to John Wayne than the ones given to James Stewart. Wayne's characters are imperfect, sometimes nasty, what gives them a touch of roughness and realism that's lacking in many of Stewart's roles. Stewart's characters tend to be too nice and gentle, at least from my perspective.

I'm sure however that these variations in character styling were nothing more than the result of studios' efforts in trying to reach the broadest possible movie audience.


ENNYMAN said...

Yes, there is something special about the best Westerns. Elmore Leonard cut his teeth writing westerns, and several became Hollywood films with big names. Hombre was a 60's western with Paul Newman. 3:10 to Yuma is a 2007 feature with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Many of his books (Leonards) feature heroes who have fantasies of Western-style shootouts with bad guys, a recurring theme.
I will have to find this one now, since I do not recall it. I agree, though, that Jimmie Stewart got a lot of "soft" roles compared to the Duke, though Hitchcock used him to great effect in several films including The Man Who Knew Too Much, Rope, Vertigo and Rear Window.

Pedro H. Albuquerque said...

Great point Ennyman, Hitchcock really knew how to get the best out of James Stewart, thanks for pointing it out!