The great, groundbreaking Westerns made in the 1950s by Anthony Mann and James Stewart — one of the foremost director-star collaborations in Hollywood history — are milestones of the genre in its “mature” or “psychological” phase. Imbued with a dark, film noir-like sensibility (Mann directed noirs in the 1940s), they are noted for their psychological complexity, adult themes, spectacular (and dramatically integral) use of landscape, and neurotic, vengeance-obsessed, violence-prone protagonists. In Winchester ’73, the first of the Mann-Stewart Westerns, Stewart is driven anti-hero Lin McAdam, out to avenge the heinous murder of his father — and, in a parallel pursuit, to recover a much-coveted stolen rifle, now passing from hand to hand. It all leads to “one of the most neurotic shootouts in the history of the Western” (Phil Hardy, Time Out). The project was originally to be directed by Fritz Lang; the excellent cast includes Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis in early roles. “One of Stewart’s greatest performances” (James Monaco). “Inspired ... Mann pursues his revenge theme with Elizabethan fury ... He transforms a jagged landscape into a highly charged psychological battleground” (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader). B&W, 35mm. 92 mins.
"A frisky, fast-moving, funny Western in which a rifle is the apple of a cowboy's eye."New York Times | full review
"The final shoot-out remains a classic study in mise-en-scene, as Mann transforms a jagged landscape into a highly charged psychological battleground."Chicago Reader | full review
"Stewart brings real flavor and appeal to the role of Lin, in a lean, concentrated portrayal."Variety | full review