Now With More Than 3600 Reviews! Go Nuts - Read 'Em All!!

WELCOME! Use the search engines on this site (or your own off-site engine of choice) to gain easy access to the complete MAKSQUIBS Archive; over 3600 posts and counting. (New posts added every day or so.)

You can check on all our titles by typing the Title, Director, Actor or 'Keyword' of your choice in the Search Engine of your choice (include the phrase MAKSQUIBS) or just use the BLOGGER Search Box at the top left corner of the page.

Feel free to place comments directly on any of the film posts and to test your film knowledge with the CONTESTS scattered here & there. (Hey! No Googling allowed. They're pretty easy.)

Send E-mails to . (Let us know if the TRANSLATE WIDGET works!) Or use the Profile Page or Comments link for contact.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Though he spent much of his career at the top of the Hollywood food chain, William Wyler made his bones helming dozens of low-budget silent Westerns @ Universal for ‘Uncle’ Carl Laemmle. After sound came in, he made just three more (HELL’S HEROES in ’29; this one; THE BIG COUNTRY/’58), all superb, all variously underappreciated, all reveling in an unhurried, but flowing pace and a high comfort level working the landscape that Wyler must have picked up on those early films. This one uses your basic Free-Range Ranchers vs. Homesteaders storyline as scaffolding (much like SHANE/’53), and is saddled with one of producer Sam Goldwyn’s typically ho-hum leading ladies (Doris Davenport). But what makes it special, and it’s very special, is the incredible yin-yang/Laurel & Hardy call-and-response act Wyler, along with scripters Jo Swerling & Niven Busch, worked up for Gary Cooper’s good-guy drifter & Walter Brennan’s not-quite bad-guy Judge Roy Bean. Watching them toss back drinks while making mordant cracks about hanging in a long dialogue scene might have earned Samuel Beckett’s approval. (Timed to a 'T' by Wyler and wonderfully shot, as is the entire film, by Gregg Toland. Check out a little sidle he uses to ‘dolly in’ on Brennan for emphasis.) And Wyler doesn’t skimp elsewhere: a fine dusty fistfight for Coop & Forrest Tucker, a devastating crop fire, and a great theatrical finale where the Judge finally gets to meet his idol, Lily Langtry. Brusquely violent, eccentrically funny, perfectly proportioned story construction (as always with Wyler*), this mid-sized gem ought to be much better known.

DOUBLE-BILL: Cooper got his big break on another Goldwyn Western, THE WINNING OF BARBARA WORTH/’26, stealing the pic from Ronald Colman & Vilma Banky before director Henry King gets to open the flood gates & flatten half the West.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Credit film critic Terrence Rafferty for noting Wyler’s invariably impeccable story construction.

No comments: