Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Broken Lance

Watched Broken Lance yesterday. Western starring Spencer Tracy as the patriarchal cattle baron, Robert Wagner as the loyal youngest son and Richard Widmark as the resentful eldest son. When the set in his ways Tracy attempts to employ frontier justice in an increasingly civilized West the family tensions come to a head and tragedy beckons.

Tracy fills his role with charm, mule-headedness and righteous indignation. Widmark doesn't get many set-pieces but still manages to give his character a drawling amorality. And Wagner, well, he's better than in Hart to Hart.

Often compared to King Lear by film critics Broken Lance is an impressive drama with complex characters wrestling with conflicting emotions. On top of this it was pretty progressive for its day (1954). Tracy is in a loving marriage to an Indian, the clean-cut Wagner is a half-breed and Wagner's love interest is an intelligent, independent young woman who stands up to Tracy better than his own sons.

Yes, the film is a little dated and it sacrifices some of its complexity in its climax but it features a tight script and top notch acting. Worth watching if you get the chance.

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