A superb Western, exemplifying Mann's capacity for integrating his interest in spectacle with a resonant narrative fully deserving the adjective 'classic', in which Gary Cooper's ex-outlaw is under constant, ranting pressure from Cobb's gang-leader father-figure to return to the fold. The odyssey of Cooper (playing the emblematically named Link Jones) from pasture to desert to ghost town and back, and from settled present to tormented past and back, bridges the traditions of classical tragedy and classic Hollywood. Mann's synthesis of archetypal characters and generic iconography is seamless; and he manages to inscribe landscape, anxious voyeurism and fratricide within his narrative resolution. Textbook cinema, maybe, but Mann's work will remain rich for discovery and celebration.
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