The Bravados

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The Bravados
The Bravados - US film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Henry King
Produced by Herbert B. Swope Jr.
Screenplay by Philip Yordan
Story by Frank O'Rourke
Starring Gregory Peck
Joan Collins
Music by Alfred Newman
Hugo Friedhofer
Lionel Newman
Cinematography Leon Shamroy
Edited by William Mace
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • June 25, 1958 (1958-06-25) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Bravados is a 1958 American western film (color by DeLuxe) directed by Henry King, starring Gregory Peck and Joan Collins. The CinemaScope film was based on a novel of the same name, written by Frank O'Rourke.[1]

Plot

Joan Collins and Gregory Peck in a scene from the film.

Jim Douglas (Gregory Peck) is a rancher pursuing four outlaws he is convinced are guilty of murdering his wife six months before. He rides into Rio Arriba, where these four men, Alfonso Parral (Lee Van Cleef), Bill Zachary (Stephen Boyd), Ed Taylor (Albert Salmi) and Lujan (Henry Silva), are in jail awaiting execution, by hanging, for an unrelated murder. Sheriff Eloy Sanchez (Herbert Rudley) allows Douglas to see the men.

In town, Douglas happens upon Josefa Velarde (Joan Collins), whom he met and fell in love with nearly five years previously in New Orleans. She has been looking after her late father's ranch and has never married. Douglas reveals that that he did marry, is now a widower, and that he has a daughter (Maria Garcia Fletcher). Josefa later learns, from Rio Arriba's priest (Andrew Duggan), the truth of how Douglas' wife died. Other townspeople include Gus Steimmetz, his daughter Emma (Kathleen Gallant) and her fiancé (Barry Coe).

A man who presents himself as the executioner, Simms, arrives and, aside from a brief drink with Douglas, seems to show little interest in socializing or advance planning for his task. 'Simms' holds off evaluating the men he is to hang until the townspeople are at church; then, while in the jail, he pretends to check the mens' height and weight, then stabs the sheriff in the back. The sheriff manages to shoot and kill 'Simms', but the inmates leave the sheriff unconscious, escape and take Emma - who has dashed from church to the store to fetch something for her father - as a hostage. The wounded sheriff comes into the church with the news that the prisoners have escaped. A posse rides out immediately, but Douglas - with his extensive experience trailing these outlaws - waits until morning; he anticipates one of the prisoners will stay behind to cut off everybody at a pass, which is what happens. Douglas eventually catches up and, when night falls, the prisoner, who has successfully held the posse off, slips away to join the rest of his group.The posse finds a dead man, who appears to be the real Simms.

The outlaws determine that Douglas is the man they must worry about most, that he, as Lujan puts it, "has the eyes of a hunter". Parral is assigned the job of ambushing Douglas from the shelter of some long grass. Instead, Douglas comes up on him from behind. Parall begs for his life and insists, when Douglas shows him a photo of his wife, that he has never seen the woman. Douglas kills him, then makes good time catching up to the other three. Taylor hangs back from his comrades, figuring he can take Douglas down easily as the man rides up. Douglas deftly avoids every shot Taylor fires, then ropes him by the feet and hangs him upside-down from a tree.

The two remaining fugitives reach the house of John Butler (Gene Evans), a prospector and Douglas' neighbor. Butler tells the men he needs to get to work outside and leaves, in actuality attempting to escape. From the inside of the house, Zachary shoots and kills him; Lujan goes to retrieve a sack of coins which Butler had taken with him. While Lujan is doing this, Zachary rapes Emma. Lujan sees riders approaching, calls to Zachary, and they flee, leaving the girl behind. The riders turn out to be Josefa and one of her ranch-hands, who now spot Douglas coming toward them from another direction. The posse also arrives and Emma's father and fiance find Emma.

Douglas goes to his ranch to get fresh mounts, but finds that the fugitives have taken his last horses. He leaves Josefa with his daughter. In a town just across the Mexican border, Douglas enters a bar and finds Zachary. The outlaw claims to not know the woman in the picture Douglas shows him and shouts at him to let him be; as Douglas draws his gun, Zachary pulls his, but Douglas shoots him dead. He then goes on to the home of the fourth man, Lujan, who has a family of his own. When shown a photo of Douglas' murdered wife, Lujan says he has never seen the woman before. He recalls that he and his companions had ridden past the ranch, straight from the border. Douglas points to Lujan's sack containing the coins and tells him that whoever killed his wife stole that from his ranch. Lujan explains that he took the bag from Butler's dead hand, whereupon Douglas realizes that it was Butler who committed the murder of his wife.

Now knowing that the four men whom he pursued had nothing to do with his wife's death, Douglas realizes that he is no better than they were, having killed three of them in cold blood. He returns to town and goes to the church to ask for forgiveness. The priest says that while he cannot condone Douglas' actions, he respects him for not making excuses for what he has done. Josefa arrives with Douglas' daughter, and they exit the church together, with the townspeople outside cheering him.

Cast

The film is notable for including a rare serious role for Joe DeRita who, around the time the film was released, became "Curly Joe" of the Three Stooges.

Reception

Critical response

When the film was released The New York Times film critic, A. H. Weiler, gave it a positive review, writing, "Despite these flaws, which are fundamentally minor deficiencies, The Bravados emerges as a credit to its makers. Director Henry King, who headed the troupe that journeyed down to the photogenic areas of Mexico's Michoacán and Jalisco provinces, has seen to it that his cast and story move at an unflagging pace...The canyons, towering mountains, forests and waterfalls of the natural locales used, make picturesque material for the color cameras. But the producers have given their essentially grim 'chase' equally colorful and arresting treatment."[2]

More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a mixed review, writing, "A brooding revenge Western that once again teams up Gregory Peck with director Henry King...It's a no-nonsense downbeat Western with Peck in his usual fine form, but the film failed to maintain a tension as it became clear from early on these men were not the ones who killed his wife. The tacked-on religious message seemed unnecessary, as it left an uneasy grimness hanging over a film that had such fine production values and potential to be a great one."[3]

Awards

Albert Salmi won the National Board of Review NBR Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1958.

See also

References

  1. ^ The Bravados on IMDb
  2. ^ Weiler, A.H. The New York Times, film review, June 26, 1958. Last accessed: February 23, 2011.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, December 30, 2005. Last accessed: February 23, 2011.

External links

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