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”.
The Westerner (1940)
This was a great delight. I knew nothing about the picture before watching it. Just that it had Cooper and Brennan in it but the Judge Roy Bean connection was a total surprise. Of course the weight of the picture is all on Brennan and he carries it so well. I really think this is the best I’ve ever seen him and that’s up against his greatness in Red River and Rio Bravo. Cooper is a good steady counterpart. The scene where they light of the fields on fire is a terrific action piece and I think the film overall is proof that Wyler is underrated, mostly I think because of the prevalence of the auteur theory which he does not neatly fit into.
Lasting impression: the end scene, one of the greatest in any Western, when Brennan after being shot refuses to be carried into the actress’s dressing room.