Sunday, 26 June 2011
The Naked Spur 
James Stewart starred in a number of Anthony Mann films, and The Naked Star is usually considered the their best collaboration. One of the early examples of revisionist Westerns, it is far removed from the good guy-bad guy story-lines typified by Classic Westerns. Stewart here plays Howard Kemp, bounty-hunter who isn’t just laconic but also prefers to be a lone wolf. He is forced to enlist the assistance of an old brusque prospector and a young dishonourably discharged soldier, in order to catch hold of Ben (excellently played by Robert Ryan), a notorious and maniacal fugitive, take him to the concerned authority, and collect the ransom that has been declared by the state. None of the characters in the film is flawless, consequently the journey of the group is made as much perilous by the harsh, arid landscape they must travel to, but also the intense psychological rivalry between the trio (on account of their inherent lack of trust towards each other) – the psychotic captive makes full use of the latter by continually supplying more and more fuel into the fire. Meanwhile, also tagging along with them is a hotheaded beaut (Janet Leigh) who happens to be Ben’s girlfriend; only that, over the course of their journey, she and Kemp start developing mutual feelings for each other. The crisp, violent film is therefore more about psychological warfare than actual fights, though it still boasted of some memorable action sequences culminating in a brutal climax.
Director: Anthony Mann
Genre: Western/Psychological Western/Action