Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Film Capsule: Anthony Mann's The Man from Laramie (1955)

The Man from Laramie (1955)
Directed by Anthony Mann

This mid-50s classic, the fifth and final Western Anthony Mann would make with his most fruitful collaborator James Stewart, is indicative of not only its creator’s psychological interest in the genre film but also the aesthetic advancements of an ever-evolving medium. An early example of the relatively short-lived CinemaScope format, the film, attuned as it is to the photographic capacity of a then-fresh technology, appropriately stands as one of the era’s most beautiful. Exploited with expert skill, the anamorphic breadth is employed in service of not just exterior expanse, but also the synergistic arrangement of actors against imposing landscapes and amongst opposing bodies. Stewart’s mysterious migrant, willfully integrated into an unwelcoming Southwest community, seeks revenge for his brother’s death at the hands of an unknown member of the town’s patriarchy. By blurring motivational and emotional lines between characters and the brotherhoods they claim to uphold, Mann is able to facilitate a brutal complexity in a genre with traditionally concrete moral codes. (October 1, 6pm at Lincoln Center, as part of the New York Film Festival’s revival program)

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