Kino Lorber has just released a terrific Blu-ray of Anthony Mann’s terrific Man Of the West, starring Gary Cooper.
Mann started out making low-budget films noirs in the 1940s then became a master filmmaker in the Western genre with the five Westerns he made with Jimmy Stewart in the 1950s. After he and Stewart had a falling out and parted ways, Mann made a few more Westerns with other stars, including Man Of the West.
Like all of Mann’s Westerns it has a noirish edge to it. Cooper is a reformed outlaw drawn by chance back into the company of his former gang, led by the psychotic Dock Tobin, played with scenery-chewing gusto by Lee J. Cobb.
Forced to face up to the crud he used to be and struggling to escape the clutches of the gang once again, he endures a dark night of the soul, of humiliation and shame, before performing the heroic deeds that will set things right again.
Mann had a terrific eye for composition, for landscapes and for movement within them. When he started working in CinemaScope, as here, he began to develop the epic style he would one day bring to late-career films like El Cid, one of the greatest of all Hollywood epics, and The Fall Of the Roman Empire, less great but still breathtaking in parts.
The Blu-ray format does justice to Mann’s visual genius and makes this new Kino Lorber edition a must-have for fans of the director’s work and of Westerns.