Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mann of the West

And the Midwest, the East, the Roman Empire; wherever there was trouble in the air, his restless cameras found it. Undervalued in his own time his reputation has only grown, and beginning Friday Film Forum serves up 32 highlights from one of the coolest and most galvanizing of Hollywood filmmakers. It's hard to go wrong here; well, maybe The Heroes of Telemark (1965), his last, fully completed film, or the stodgy Cimarron (1960), or the bumpy, strenuously off-color God's Little Acre (1958). But the growing and stretching, the David Lean-ness of much of his late career, wasn't entirely misguided: El Cid (1963) and The Fall of the Roman Empire are vivid pagaentry, with flesh-and-blood centers. He never left behind the sinew of human existence, so challenged in all his great noirs and Westerns. My favorites: The Furies (Barbara Stanwyck is pictured in its great, shocking moment), Border Incident, Devil's Doorway, Raw Deal, Winchester '73, Man of the West, The Tall Target, Side Street, Reign of Terror...practically a treat a day. Fun fact: My wife and I got engaged after we saw Roman Empire.

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