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The Man from Laramie
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
One of the reasons that Jimmy Stewart is one of the truly great movie stars in Hollywood history was his ability to reinvent himself. Early in his career, he excelled as a light comedian, though he could expand that into more complex comedic roles such as MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON and IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. But mainly, he was nice. He was never mean, never rough, never rugged. But in the 1950s he was wonderfully utilized in differing ways by two very different directors: Alfred Hitchcock and Anthony Mann. The latter in particular offered Stewart roles that would be the darkest, most complex of his career. When we think of the great actor of the 1950s, Stewart is not usually the first actor of whom we think, but the fact is that from 1950 with the films WINCHESTER 73 (with Mann), BROKEN ARROW, and HARVEY (for which he received an Oscar nomination) to 1959 with ANATOMY OF A MURDER, Stewart was the most prolific star of the decade, with a resume that no other actor can match. Not least his success depended on the string of eight films he made with Anthony Mann: WINCHESTER 73, BEND OF THE RIVER, THE NAKED SPUR, THUNDER BAY, THE GLENN MILLER STORY, THE FAR COUNTRY, STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND, and THE MAN FROM LARAMIE. The five Westerns of this collaboration stand comparison with any series of Westerns ever made, excluding only those of John Ford and John Wayne.

THE MAN FROM LARAMIE is probably the finest Western that Stewart and Mann made together, though it gets serious competition from THE NAKED SPUR. Unlike Clint Eastwood, who pretty much played variations on the Man With No Name even in Westerns in which his character had a name, each of Stewart's Western characters are strikingly different from one another. Howard Kemp in THE NAKED SPUR is a man so obsessed in his task that he borders on insanity. Will Lockhart in THE MAN FROM LARAMIE, while angry, is self-contained, deliberate, and calculating. He is a man on a mission-a U.S. Army captain going undercover to learn who was selling repeating rifles to the Apaches who ambushed a squad of soldiers, one of whom was his brother. Unlike Howard Kemp, Will Lockhart is the epitome of sanity. And unlike some of his other roles under Mann, Stewart's Lockhart is never driven to action by his circumstances. In BEND IN THE RIVER and THE FAR COUNTRY, Stewart's characters respond to trouble, but they don't seek it out. Lockhart knew he was stepping into trouble from the start.

One of the reasons that THE MAN FROM LARAMIE is so outstanding is the presence both of a very strong cast (with a couple of notable exceptions) and finely conceived characters. Next to Stewart's Lockhart, Arthur Kennedy's Vic Hansboro is marvelous as an almost tragic figure-the foreman of a huge ranch who is the glue who holds everything together, but knows that the irresponsible, incompetent, hotheaded son of the owner is destined to inherit all. He is in an impossible situation, and this is brought out by a series of accidents that he finds himself in the middle of. Always good in anything he was in, this is one of the finest roles of Kennedy's career. The other stellar performance is by the always reliable and enormously versatile Donald Crisp as cattle mogul Alec Waggoman. I love his role because Waggoman is never reduced to a one-dimensional stereotype. Unfortunately, the film is brought down somewhat by the lackluster Cathy O'Donnell as the film's love interest and by Alex Nicol. Although he was memorable in two powerful scenes in which he first ropes Jimmy Stewart after burning his wagons and shooting his mules and then later shoots him in the hand after his men holds him, he overall lacks any kind of subtlety in his performance. Had the film had a more gifted actor in the role, this would have been an even better film.

Like all of the Stewart-Mann Westerns, this one was filmed on location, though each film sports a different one. THE MAN FROM LARAMIE was primarily shot around Santa Fe and Taos, and one of the joys of each of these films is the unique look the locations create.

On a negative note, the dreadful song that graces the beginning and end of the film stands as one of the worst in the history of the Hollywood Western. One can only speculate what led to the selection of this song as the theme.

Turner Classic Movies has a series called The Essentials, a series dedicated to some of the finest films in the history of American cinema. If a similar series were created for the Western, all five of the Stewart-Mann films would be included. And of that series, THE MAN FROM LARAMIE might be the finest of the bunch.
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55 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2000
Format: DVD
Some men arrive with provisions for a store, most of them will return from whence they came. One man, portrayed by James Stewart, may have come from Laramie but its not his home and does not intend to return until he finds out who supplied the rifles to the Apache - rifles which were used to kill a cavalry troop, among them his brother.
His quest brings him into conflict with a local landowner who has dreamt that a man would one day come to kill his son. Is it the man from Laramie?
James Stewart and Anthony Mann made some great films together - this was the last, and by no means the least. I have said it before and I'll say it again - James Stewart was the finest actor ever and this film features another fine performance.
The DVD transfer (anamorphic) is excellent - picture quality and sound are excellent. My only complaint is the lack of features. Trailers for the other Stewart/Mann films at least would have been a worthy addition.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 12, 2002
Format: DVD
Hard to believe I missed this jewel before. Just an outstanding collaboration by Stewart/Mann. I really don't see the brutality here that so many people are quick to scream these days, and who cares about King Lear? This is just a great Western in the classic sense. Jimmy Stewart was always his best in the "I'm gonna get you sucka'" role and he is terrific here. The story outweighs some casting issues but you won't care. Cathy O'Donnell is exactly like Stewart describes her..."beautiful", a fragile genuine treasure.
The DVD transfer is nothing but spectacular. I've never seen colors like this anywhere and there's plenty of scenery to "wow" at. Amazing actually but that's an Anthony Mann trademark. Just jumped into my top five all time list. 5 mules, still standing.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2000
Format: DVD
This has got to be one of the best western plots ever filmed. Unlike so many others in the genre, "The Man From Laramie" has a complex and interesting conflict as its center. Many have compared it to "King Lear" and the main story line does resemble the subplot of Gloucester and his two sons. Whether the Shakespeare connection is intentional or not, it works extremely well.
Partly responsible for the film's success are its stars: James Stewart is good as usual, while Arthur Kennedy, Donald Crisp and Aline McMahon really stand out in their characterizations. Anthony Mann's directing is tight and uncompromising. The picture never lags once and there are many strongly dramatic moments, some even a bit shocking for 1955.
The film was photographed with artistry, and the DVD issue does it justice. Several scenes are beautifully balanced and dramatically expressive. There is a wonderful wide-screen, panoramic look that comes across quite well. The real surprise is the audio. This 1955 movie has a full-bodied stereo soundtrack! The musical score may not be one the all-time greats, but it is often very effective, and on this disc it fills the viewing space with excitement. Highly recommended, even to Western non-fans.
For extras: only the original trailer and a very poorly presented original poster.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2000
Format: DVD
This is one of a series of seminal Westerns that Anthony Mann directed with Jimmy Stewart at the lead, and (to my knowledge) the only one filmed in widescreen, with spectacular results. I've personally tried to watch these movies in revival movie houses whenever there's a chance, in order to experience the full majesty of the Cinemascope experience, and because commercially available tapes usually crop the scenes brutally and use faded prints.
I'd have to say that I may end up deserting the movie theater-going experience if every DVD is as good as this one -- this is a great transfer, with extremely vibrant colors, and Mann films the Western landscapes with incredible detail. This almost demands to be viewed several times, the visual stimulation is so overwhelming. The story is a good one, having originally appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, though some of it is force fed too directly to the screen characters, resulting in somewhat stagey dialogue early on. Any unnaturalness in the early going is ultimately overcome by the excellence of the actors, and the way Mann films the action and the territory surrounding the characters. There's a good deal of complexity in the numerous characters Stewart encounters, adding depth to the traditional individual themes of vengeance and redemption.
As far as extras, there's not much: a short and plain trailer, and an image of the original theatrical poster. Sound is OK but nothing special, not unusual given how old the movie is. Warning to some: though the violence in this movie is extremely tame compared to anything released since the '60s, and violence is largely filmed off screen, there are a couple of very intense and direct scenes, including the up-close shooting of a hand. This is definitely much more than a lovable "Jimmy Stewart saves the day" type of Western which some might expect.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
In the 1950's, James Stewart and director Anthony Mann made eight films together, including five westerns. The first was "Winchester '73", the last was "The Man From Laramie". Every film was a masterpiece. There was always a throughline of theme and plot, and Stewart's character was always a loner with a mean streak who is brought back from the brink by the love of a good woman...or something similar to that...but it didn't matter. These five movies are among the best of the western genre, and "The Man From Laramie" stands tall as one of Stewart's greatest performances.
Stewart comes to a small New Mexico town, ostensibly to deliver goods to the general store, but he's actually an undercover Cavalry officer in search of the man or men who sold the local Apache a load of rifles, which were then used to massacre a Cavalry platoon, among them Stewart's younger brother. His investigation brings him in contact with the town's patriarch and his psychotic son (see "King Lear" and the more recent "Road to Perdition"), and while it seems Stewart is getting sidetracked he's actually on the right road, heading inexorably toward the brutal truth and the vicious need for revenge in his own soul.
Anthony Mann was a major director, he gets great performances from all his actors and the scenery in his movies is always breathtaking. With a great actor like Stewart working (and working hard) for him, Mann could explore the darker aspects of the American western, he could go places the brilliant but "straight" John Ford never thought of going. And Stewart, in dire need to tarnish his All-American Boy routine which was growing old fast, dug into these roles with a gusto actors like DeNiro and Brando would have been afraid to muster. These films made up one of the great collaborations between director and star of all time; and they went out with a bang, a classic confrontation between hard men who know more about their guns and their horses than they'll ever know about themselves that must be on the short list of anybody who wants to swim in the deep and warm waters of the Western.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2000
Format: DVD
Director Anthony Mann's THE MAN FROM LARAMIE is a movie lover's dream. It's a western shot in the beautiful deserts of New Mexico with enough action to keep your mind occupied while your eyes wander through the landscapes. James Stewart, Arthur Kennedy and Donald Crisp are at their best and the rest of the cast gives a great performance.
Some of the reviewers have already noted the shakespearian flavour of the story so I'm rather going to underline other evident references. OK ! So, in THE MAN OF LARAMIE, we have an old man with a recurrent dream, a dream announcing that a stranger will come and murder his son. When Alec announces to Vic that he's becoming blind, we cannot have any doubts more : we are witnessing another variation of the myth of Oedipus. From this moment on, you're going to have a subtle pleasure to read THE MAN FROM LARAMIE with a pair of freudian glasses ! Let's observe these brothers ( Vic HansBRO ) fight for the love of their old father, let's mourn the disappearance of Alec's wife who created a monster out of her son in order to hurt her macho husband, etc..
Images and sound (stereo) are OUTSTANDING. For once, a production company has forgotten the usual economic laws and takes advantage of the real possibilities of a DVD by presenting 4 or five different subtitles. Thank you Columbia !
A DVD for your library.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2000
Format: DVD
The Man From Laramie Opened On July 28, 1955 and became one of the biggest grossing pictures of the year. This Western Classic was among the first Westerns filmed in Cinenascope and emphasizes the scope and beauty of the New Mexico landscape.
James Stewart gives a memorable performance as a man obsessed with finding the man responsible for his brother's death.
The print quality is excellent and the audio and video is digitally mastered making "The Man From Laramie" a true western classic, to be enjoyed many times. This movie is a keeper and was added to my video library to be enjoyed by my grand children.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
James Stewart could act. I believe he could have sold the Brooklyn bridge to the police department. Have you ever been in a situation where your natural inward anger took over, and you just cut loose? The scene in this film where he spots the man that shot his mules and burned his wagons, is proof positive that James Stewart was one of us...a common man with pure inner rage. Stewart had a way of bringing the emotion to life. I feel sometimes while watching "The man from Laramie" that he threw away the script, and played out the role as if this was all happening to him personally. And what greater tribute can we the fans give to an actor?
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2006
Format: DVD
Some of the best Westerns of the fifties were those directed by Anthony Mann and John Ford, straightforward and unpretentious, but each with an interesting approach to the requirements of the genre... Mann's films were the more prestigious, usually featuring James Stewart who, with John Wayne, was the fifties' biggest box-office draw... "The Man From Laramie" best known because of the Frankie Laine theme strong which accompanied it, is notable for (among other things) Alex Nicol's extraordinary projection of sadism, an element which dominated the best of Mann's movies... The motion picture was to be the last of the Mann-Stewart Westerns...

Stewart is cast as a wagon handler from Laramie, Wyoming, but is, really, an army officer out to avenge the death of his younger brother, a U.S. Cavalryman, massacred by the Apaches who were buying guns from unknown persons... It is these persons that Stewart is looking for..

Soon Stewart gets involved in an area of New Mexico which is ruled by the iron hand of a cattle baron Donald Crisp, a strong authoritarian "who can't live with a lie"... Crisp's one weakness is his love and care for his spoiled son, Alex Nicol...

Wild but feeble, yet vicious, Nicol - with extraordinary projection of sadism - accosts Stewart in several confrontations in which (among other outrages) Stewart is dragged through fire by horses, and has his hand held tight while Alex puts a bullet through it... Mann proceeds in this mood throughout the movie, growing even more sadistic...

Arthur Kennedy, a hard-working heavy, plays the adopted son of Crisp... He is a son in disguise, jealous of Alex, pretending to be his brother's ally and protector...

A lot of good supporting actors are cast including Cathy O'Donnell, the fragile beauty who has little to do but await patiently for an opportunity; Aline MacMahon, the fine 'ugly' woman who never leaves the old man, and Jack Elam who tries to knife James Stewart in the back...

Anthony Mann adopted an altogether tougher approach to Western mythology than John Ford... His obsessive, neurotic characters and his emphasis on violence foretell the work of Peckinpah, Leone and Eastwood...

Filmed in Technicolor, "The Man From Laramie" is a Western with new touches of brutality touching off the wide screen spectacle...
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