Sunday, 30 June 2013
Irrespective of whether or not one considers Warlock as his best work, Edward Dmytryk is possibly best remembered for this tense psychological Western. This was, at once, an intriguing account of a complicated friendship between two men, a tale of wits and psychological duel between warring personalities, and an observation on the inevitable demise of the Old West and its replacement with law and morality. The titular town, besieged by regular instances of anarchy because of a gang of cowboys led by Abe McQueen (Tom Drake), hires the renowned and suavely dressed gunslinger Clay Blaisedell (Henry Fonda) as its marshal. Along with him arrives Tom Morgan (Anthony Quinn), Clay’s loyal and crippled friend who protects his back. Meanwhile Johnny Garson (Richard Widmark), a member of Abe’s gang decides to go straight and volunteers for the vacant job of the town’s Sheriff. Complications arise when Tom tries to eliminate Clay’s former flame in order to have no one between their “friendship”, only to find Clay falling for an attractive citizen of the town (Dolores Michaels). The film wasn’t short of its share of stand-offs and gunfights, but its most implosive moments were created through Clay and Tom’s complex alliance that would surely have made the audiences then uncomfortable in their seats. It was darn interesting to see Widmark in an uncharacteristically honest and honorable role, while Fonda too was at the top of his game. But the most memorable performance was provided by Quinn as Fonda’s slippery, unpredictable and hero-worshipping sidekick. Few overdone plot moments and the operatic climax notwithstanding, this managed to be quite a taut, gripping and a so-called “thinking man’s Western”.
Director: Edward Dmytryk
Genre: Western/Psychological Western