Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Test of the West

So this summer I've borrowed quite a few movies from the library, usually watching them on Friday night. My picks have been by instinct and curiosity. They haven't always worked out. Giallo might be an interesting subgenre, but I had to bail on Dario Argento's The Bird with the Crystal Plumage because the plot was just too imbecilic. (A serial killer is butchering women in Rome. What do we do? Let's send in an American novelist who doesn't really know the city or the language!)

That's just to assure you that I don't like absolutely everything. But The Furies actually is quite worth seeing. It's a Western directed by Anthony Mann, who'd mostly done noir crime dramas up to that point. That probably counts for something.

The film stars Barbara Stanwyck as Vance Jeffords. She looks up to her father, a legendary rancher named TC Jeffords, played by Walter Huston. He's got a big personality and does seem to have a way with cattle.

It's also pretty obvious that he's broke. He's made a habit of paying for everything with "TC notes", which are really just fancy IOUs. It's also unclear how much of this land is rightfully his. There's an extended family of Mexican's living on the estate, who claim that they belong here and don't seem crazy. A rival family also say that TC stole some of his land from them.

So TC's fortune is on shaky ground. And since Vance has a friend among the Mexicans and falls in love/hate with the scion of the rival family, the father/daughter relationship is also precarious.

The Furies, shot in black and white, uses its far West landscape in moody, Gothic ways. It's also concise, telling a fairly epic story in under two hours. The corn content on this one is pretty low.


susan said...

Your description has persuaded me I may have seen 'The Furies' a very long time ago and ought to watch again (or for the first time in case I'm imagining an earlier viewing). It's on our library's list of available films so I've just put a hold on it. Thanks for the tip.

Ben said...

I know I had never seen it before. Haven't seen a lot of Barbara Stanwyck movies in general. She's quite good in this. So is Walter Huston, whom I did have vivid memories of in The Devil and Daniel Webster.