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Jubal (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Jubal is a luckless drifter, played by Ford who is rescued from exposure and starvation by wealthy rancher Ernest Borgnine. Borgnine soons put Jubal to work as a ranch hand. Borgnine has a very young and beautiful wife, played by Valerie French. She takes a strong liking to Jubal, which not only complicates his relationship with Borgnine, but further strains his dealings with a jealous fellow ranch hand Pinky, played by Rod Steiger. Things go downhill from there.
Add Felicia Farr playing her normal stalwart Western beauty and Charles Bronson as a friend of Jubal's, and you have the making of a great film. It's way past time that this was on DVD.
Judging from other entries, such as 1958's "Cowboy", Daves seems genuinely intrigued by the real life of cowhands. Thus the cowhands in Jubal are more vividly drawn and distinctively presented than their usual role as faceless stage props. The story itself features a fairly explicit (for its time) woman in heat (French), whose scheming shenanigans set off a plot-driving chain of events, while shifting alliances among ranch hands and settlers round out a sprawling and sometimes over-generous plot. And, oh yes, making a sudden appearance half way through, a lonesome Charles Bronson in a tacked on role that perhaps provided a needed payday, (Daves and Bronson had been together in the earlier, oddball essay "Drumbeat".) If none of this sounds good, then just sit back and take in the beautifully photographed alpine landscape that has salvaged many a western much less worthy than "Jubal".
THE STORY: An injured drifter, Glenn Ford as Jubal Troop, is rescued by ranch-owner Shep (Earnest Borgnine), who ultimately promotes him to foreman of his ranch. This stirs up the envy of ranch-hand Pinky (Rod Steiger) and the desire of Shep's young sexpot wife, Mae (Valerie French), which results in even more hostility from Pinky since he used to enjoy the adulterous attentions of Mae until Jubal came along. The captivating drama is as old as the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife from Genesis 39.
Add to this mix a group of trespassing Mennonites (or perhaps Quakers) who have in their company Naomi (Felicia Farr), a godly woman who attracts Jube's romantic eye, and Reb (Charles Bronson), another drifter who befriends Jube.
WHAT WORKS: For the first hour and ten minutes or so "Jubal" is captivating cinema of the highest order. Shep (Borgnine) is simpleminded and naïve, but likable and full of mirth. Mae (French) is fully clothed at all times, yet somehow oozes sexuality with every simple glance or word, proving that sexiness involves way more than merely showing skin. Naomi (Farr) is an interesting addition to the story: her purity attracts Jube just as much as Mae's adulterous tactics turn him off.
Rod Steiger is perfect as the villainous Southerner-turned-Westerner "Pinky." Notice how his hostility toward Jubal is rooted in arrogance, envy and jealousy. Also notice that his strategy to destroy Jubal is deception -- getting others to believe lies. This is how it happens in real life with enemies who hate you for no actual reason.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very good movie. Excellent Blu-ray transfer, both video and sound.Published 2 months ago by relaxretired
always love glen ford in this ,Saw, when it came out,,lots of old style hypocracy,for action ,charles bronson in time,love interest is tasteful tenderness,,also like the treachery... Read morePublished 5 months ago by IGNACIODURAN
At the age of 52, I have finally become a fan of westerns. Kind of strange, as that genre never really appealed to me in my younger years. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ronald Epstein
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