As a precursor to our film project, 12 Western Feature-Length Films in 12 Months, which Running Wild Films and 5J Media will start producing in 2016, director Travis Mills shares his thoughts on films from the genre as he studies Westerns in preparation for our own. Follow the project here on Facebook

This series of short blogs is titled “Western Impressions”.

Lonely are the Brave (1962)


This is almost a great western. And it’s certainly one of the best examples of a “modern Western”. I say almost because the ending is contrived and leaves a dark cloud over the rest of the film. It’s too bad that the truck driver is included at all in the film. Somehow the filmmakers must have felt it necessary to hammer the idea of the modern world crushing the cowboy lifestyle when their film gets that idea across enough in its own beautiful, subtle way. Anyway, the rest of the film is perfect. Douglas is great as the lead and Matthau an incredible support. Everything is so well written and directed from the unrequited romance between Douglas and Gena Rowlands to the way in which the jail scene is staged and the touching bond between Douglas and his horse. I wish the ending had the same beautiful mystery George Stevens gave Shane. If it did, Lonely are the Brave would be a masterpiece.

Lasting impression: Along with Douglas’s turn in Ace in the Hole, this is probably the best work of his career.