Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Gilbert Roland and Barbara Stanwyck
THE FURIES (1950). Director: Anthony Mann.

Vance Jeffords (Barbara Stanwyck), daughter of rancher T.J. Jeffords (Walter Huston) on a ranch called the Furies in 1870, certainly has her problems. She's in love with swaggering banker Rip Darrow (Wendell Corey, not exactly the swaggering type, but not bad), who'd rather have her father's money. Her friend Juan Herrera (Gilbert Roland), one of a family of squatters, is in love with her but he doesn't quite make her engine rumble. Worst of all, daddy has brought home a strong, conniving lady named Flo (Judith Anderson), who threatens Vance's status on the ranch -- watch for those fireworks! Anderson, Huston and Stanwyck are splendid in this fascinating sex-western dealing with the [nearly incestuous] love and hatred between equally strong father and daughter. As Juan's sharp-shooting mother, Blanche Yurka is nearly as vengeful in this as she was in A Tale of Two Cities. Albert Dekker of Dr. Cyclops shows up briefly and Beulah Bondi has a small but effective bit late in the picture. John Bromfield has one of his more significant roles as Stanwyck's brother, Clay, although his character is never developed that much. Franz Waxman's excellent score, and Victor Milner and Lee Garmes' striking widescreen photography make this a pleasure to look at as well as to hear. Although some scenes, such as a hanging in which the victim goes meekly to the rope, don't quite come off, The Furies is consistently absorbing and -- best of all -- unpredictable. Written by Charles Schnee from a novel by Niven Busch.

Verdict: Highly satisfying western melodrama. ***1/2.

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