Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 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 Sixty Five: Station West
Of Criterion’s “Western Noir” series which I’ve watched so far, this film qualifies most as a cross between the genres, not because of it’s expressionist lighting but the entire attitude of the story and its characters.
From the start, we’re treated to the usual Western atmosphere and set up but Powell and the others are shooting at each other with words, not bullets. The sharp, firecracker dialog sounds like it came from The Maltese Falcon. The film proceeds this way in interesting directions with some memorable scenes: Powell’s prolonged fist fight in which I was happy to see him actually get beat up real good (again more like a Noir character) and the stagecoach night drive.
Somewhere along the journey, the crime plot of this Western gets a little lost. Like many Noir films, it becomes less about narrative and more about the characters. I stopped keeping track of who did what and to whom, focusing only on the moments. However, this ultimately leads to a hollow ending where intentions aren’t quite clear. The finale should pack a wallop but it doesn’t. Still, this is a fascinating entry in the genre to study.
Seen on Criterion Channel.