Winchester '73 Reviews
The story of the how the gun changes hands, the hands it goes through and how many people it kills is also interesting. A sort-of circle of life, for a weapon.
Good action scenes. Plot is decent, though it has some moments and scenes where not everything gels, and it feels contrived.
Good performance by James Stewart in the lead role. Shelly Winters, as the wisecracking damsel-in-distress, is interesting. Certainly not your conventional female character in a western, who are normally seen rather than heard (not saying I agree with that convention, by the way). Initially her one-liners are at odds with the drama of the movie, and jar a little, but her character grows on you and eventually her jokes are a pleasant distraction.
Good supporting cast which includes Rock Hudson, in one of his earliest roles, as a young Indian leader (!). Tony Curtis, also early in his career, has a very minor part.
This is a very clever western, and throughout the movie, the rifle is put into several different hands. I won't spoil anything, but the climax of this movie is fantastic, and although it takes a little time for the journey to pick up, when it does, it really is quite a ride. The acting is great, especially by James Stewart and surprisingly, another actor named Dan Duryea. Unfortunately, James Stewart isn't in the movie as much as I really wanted him to be, considering I'm certain that some characters get nearly (if not, just as much) screen time as him. However, when he is on screen, he's very likable. He seems like an actor that's fit for westerns and roles like this. His role is pretty psychological, and his constant terror and outbreaks of emotion created lots of intensity. Dan Duryea plays a murderous sociopath named Waco Johnny Dean, and I found him to be very enjoyable in the role. The pacing is very fast, and there's quite a bit of action, including a saloon fight, shoot outs, and Indian wars. One aspect I liked about this movie is the fact that they never really tell you why there's a conflict between Lin McAdam and Dutch Henry Brown at the beginning of the movie and in the contest until near the end, and I was very surprised by the reasoning.
The story is very well told, even if it isn't exactly what you would call "riveting", but I was never less than fully engaged. I was hooked one from the first second to the last, although some things did take me out of the film every once in a while. First of all, I didn't really like how the Native Americans were portrayed in this movie, and I found it to be somewhat offensive. Although that's how they were technically treated back during the Old West, I'm not sure if that's a reason to justify it. Also, as I stated a little earlier, James Stewart is only in the movie for about half the time, and a few characters get just as much screen time (without James being on screen). It was a little frustrating, and I didn't find those parts as interesting, but I was still engaged. Another problem is the fact that everything is so coincidental, as if everything in this Old West setting was specifically in a certain place where the story could move along quicker. The West was a pretty big place, and constantly running into things conveniently for the story to continue was a little odd. Anyways, at this point I feel like I'm nit-picking, so if you can get past these small flaws, Winchester '73 will be a very intense, yet fun and interesting western.
Although Winchester '73 is not exactly a remembered western for James Stewart, I found it to be an excellent, intense western that never slowed down. A few small flaws got in the way but they're pretty much just nit-picks (although the way the Natives were treated was uncalled for), and I wish James Stewart had more screen time, but everything else was told perfectly. Very worth watching, and it goes by very fast. I wished it lasted longer, considering the ride I had with this movie was a lot more entertaining than expected. What I also found somewhat interesting was the fact that they included Wyatt Earp for a while during the great opening, and although the portrayal doesn't seem exactly accurate, it was nice to see that small bit of history included. Practically everything in Winchester '73 works well, and it's an overall great western with great themes, and the last few minutes alone let this movie deserve every bit of its classic reputation that it has.