Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week 133: Cast a Long Shadow
Was anyone better at playing a tortured hero than Audie Murphy? I never cease to be amazed by his performances in this Westerns, even if the films that surround him leave me wanting. He brings such a raw vulnerability to his work and an authenticity that must have come from his war experience.
This film makes great use of those qualities in its first half, presenting an unusual Western plot about a bastard child who inherits the land owned by his old boss (who may also be his father) and how that effects his relationships with everyone from the cowhands who work the land to an old love interest. Other than a couple well-staged fist fights, the film doesn’t feel like a traditional Western during this first half, really exploring the psychological journey of its characters, providing an opportunity for Murphy to really excel in the role.
Unfortunately, when the narrative moves towards a cattle drive, it descends into a more predictable plot and one that did not hold my interest. The film even repeats its best moves, giving us one too many brawls and double crosses. Otherwise, it’s a fine Murphy Western and one worth a look.
Watched on Tubi.