Winchester '73 (1950) - Rotten Tomatoes

Winchester '73 (1950)

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Movie Info

Several Hollywood insiders felt that Jimmy Stewart had overestimated his box office appeal when he agreed to appear in Winchester '73 not for his usual salary, but for a percentage of the film's gross profits. No one was doubting Stewart's sagacity when Winchester '73 proved to be one of the most successful westerns in years, and soon every major star was jumping on the profits-percentage bandwagon. The film itself is the story of a longstanding blood feud; the film's centerpiece is a prized Winchester rifle. Hardbitten loner Stewart rides into Dodge City, where he participates in a Fourth of July shooting contest to win the coveted rifle. Stewart's principal opponent is surly Stephen McNally, for whom Stewart holds an unexplained hatred. McNally wins, but Cochran steals the rifle and heads for the hills. As Stewart conducts a long, grim search for the stolen weapon, it passes through several hands, notably the grimy ones of outlaw Dan Duryea. After the gun has come full circle, we learn that Stewart is McNally's brother, and that McNally had killed their father. The errant brother is himself killed in the final shootout while using the selfsame Winchester. Winchester '73 was not only a goldmine at the box office, but it also established a harmonious relationship between James Stewart and director Anthony Mann, who would guide Stewart through two subsequent no-nonsense adventure films, Bend of the River (1952) and The Far Country (1955). Based on a story by Stuart N. Lake, Winchester '73 would be indifferently remade for TV in 1967.
Rating:
NR
Genre:
Classics , Western
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
 wide
On DVD:
Runtime:
Studio:
Universal Pictures

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Cast

James Stewart
as Lin McAdam
Dan Duryea
as Waco Johnnie Dean
Shelley Winters
as Lola Manners
Stephen McNally
as Dutch Henry Brown
Millard Mitchell
as Johnny `High Spade' Williams
Charles Drake
as Steve Miller
John McIntire
as Joe Lamont
Will Geer
as Wyatt Earp
Jay C. Flippen
as Sgt. Wilkes
Rock Hudson
as Young Bull
John Alexander
as Jack Rider
Steve Brodie
as Wesley
James Millican
as Wheeler
Abner Biberman
as Latigo Means
James Best
as Crater
Gregg Martell
as Mossman
Frank Chase
as Cavalryman
Chuck Roberson
as Long Tom
Carol Henry
as Dudeen
Ray Teal
as Marshal Noonan
Virginia Mullen
as Mrs. Jameson
John Doucette
as Roan Daley
Steve Darrell
as Masterson
Bob Anderson
as Basset
Ray Bennett
as Charles Bender
Guy Wilkerson
as Virgil
Larry Olsen
as Boy at Rifle Shoot
Edmund Cobb
as Target watcher
Steven Darrell
as Bat Masterson
Forrest Taylor
as Target Clerk
Ethan Laidlaw
as Station master
Bonnie Kay Eddy
as Betty Jameson
Jennings Miles
as Stagecoach Driver
John War Eagle
as Indian interpreter
Duke Yorke
as First Man
Ted Mapes
as Bartender
Norman Kent
as Buffalo Hunter
Norman Olestad
as Stable Boy
Tim Hawkins
as Boy at Rifle Shoot
Mel Archer
as Bartender
Bill McKenzie
as Boy at Rifle Shoot
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Critic Reviews for Winchester '73

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (5)

Strikingly photographed in black & white, the film is directed with an eye to realistic detail, an ear for the script's frequently natural dialogue and a knack for building suspense.

Full Review… | March 17, 2015
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Stewart brings real flavor and appeal to the role of Lin, in a lean, concentrated portrayal.

Full Review… | July 9, 2007
Variety
Top Critic

Mann's first film with James Stewart, with whom he was to make a series of classic Westerns, this offers the clearest example of Mann's use of the revenge plot.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A frisky, fast-moving, funny Western in which a rifle is the apple of a cowboy's eye.

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

The final shoot-out remains a classic study in mise-en-scene, as Mann transforms a jagged landscape into a highly charged psychological battleground.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

With such a strong cast, the film almost turns into an ensemble film instead of a star vehicle for Stewart in his first of many collaborations with Mann.

Full Review… | March 17, 2015
Empire Magazine

Audience Reviews for Winchester '73

½

One part Western (the visuals), one part noir (the script), this is one different take on the genre. Rock Hudson as an Indian, Tony Curtis as, well, Tony Curtis, a mythical firearm that drives men crazy, and reheat the Redenbacher's, cause this is good viewing.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

Winchester 73 is one of those perfect classic Westerns (High Noon, The Searchers, Stagecoach, etc.) that never disappoints or lets up from the moment you pop in the disc. The depth and complexity of James Stewart's performance is the star here, but for me, film noir auteur Anthony Mann's textured, high contrast black and white photography is a runner up, especially in the night scenes, which have the haunting and three dimensional glowing quality of the best film noir classics. Thirdly, the perfectly cast cracker jack supporting players, all hold the screen with the masterful Stewart in his prime, full of veterans like Grandpa Walton (Will Geer), and newcomers circa 1950 like Shelly Winters, Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson. The script is subtle using natural, conversational dialogue. The acting style matches the script to a t, with almost Stanislavski-esque performance 'method' . Don't expect the wacky buddy comedy or over the top cackling villainy of some of the other later day (post WWII) Westerns. It's a well told story that wraps up perfectly and takes its time to make its big shocking revelation, adding resonance to the tragic wrenching conclusion. The 93 minutes fly by with the wall to wall excellence on display here.

Josh Morris
Josh Morris

Super Reviewer

½

Winchester 73 is fine, light-hearted fun. Full of charismatic performances and a simple but functional story, it never fails to please or entertain, even if it's not exactly riveting.

Kyle Fowler
Kyle Fowler

Super Reviewer

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