Great Day in the Morning
Time Out saysA fine Western, set on the eve of the Civil War, with Stack as a Southern gambler/gunslinger who agrees, for a price, to help ferry a shipment of gold desperately needed to buy guns for the Rebel cause. Adapted from a bestseller and set in the booming Colorado Territory, it starts with the advantage of a remarkably literate script by Lesser Samuels which beats a lucid path through the tangle of conflicting interests: not only between North and South, but between public need and private lust for gold, between the realities of love and the illusions of desire. Focal point of the various subsidiary battles between self-interest and selfless commitment is Stack's anti-hero, who is finally cornered not only into offering his services to the South free of charge, but to acknowledge that he loves Roman's shop-soiled saloon girl rather than Mayo's pristine lady. But he does so - the script never quite abandons its abrasive edge of cynicism - only when it is too late for his gold (otherwise all of it would fall into Northern hands) and for his girl (although he doesn't know it, he left her behind to be murdered). Tourneur stages it all impeccably, with outstanding performances from Stack and Roman.