The Naked Spur

1953

The Naked Spur

Critics Consensus

No consensus yet.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 13

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,331
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Movie Info

In this film, James Stewart plays a taciturn frontiersman who loses his home while he's off fighting the Civil War. To raise enough money for a new grubstake, Stewart becomes a bounty hunter in Colorado territory. His first quarry is fugitive killer Robert Ryan.

Cast

James Stewart
as Howard Kemp
Robert Ryan
as Ben Vandergroat
Millard Mitchell
as Jesse Tate
Ralph Meeker
as Roy Anderson
Janet Leigh
as Lina Patch

Critic Reviews for The Naked Spur

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (13)

Audience Reviews for The Naked Spur

  • Oct 31, 2018
    Contrary to what Iâ(TM)ve read, I donâ(TM)t think the characters in this film are really all that complicated, in fact, theyâ(TM)re all pretty simple, but to its credit, theyâ(TM)re also all far from admirable. I also liked its economy of characters â" there are only five with speaking parts, and it gives the film a lean simplicity. The scenery is the real star though, shot on location in the Rocky Mountains, with beautiful trees, rocky outcrops, and a raging river. Leading the three who are trying to bring in a wanted man is a civil war vet (Jimmy Stewart) who was duped out of his ranch by a woman, and at first falsely represents himself as a lawman. The two others who horn their way into his plan, seeking to share the reward are a grizzled old prospector (Millard Mitchell) who has failed to strike it rich after decades trying, and a dishonorably discharged soldier (Ralph Meeker) who raped an Indian girl. The man theyâ(TM)re trying to bring in is (Robert Ryan) is wanted for killing someone by shooting him in the back. He has a young woman with him (Janet Leigh) who is naively loyal to him, and follows the schemes he hatches to try to escape. Great group, eh? This creates a realistic feel, and in a setting without the structure of community, we see the struggle between selfish and cooperative behavior, and that most primal of power dynamics, that â~might makes rightâ(TM). This already ambiguous group get still more twisted up by Ryanâ(TM)s manipulations. He sows the seeds of doubt and pits them against each other from the start in such obvious ways, that one really wonders why heâ(TM)s not gagged or pistol whipped. The story is a bit predictable, and includes a requisite scene where a dozen Indians are gunned down with single shots to each, despite being moving targets. The love interest that develops between Stewart and Leigh is too sudden and unbelievable, though Stewart as always turns in a strong performance, particularly when he gets nasty. The trouble is, the other four performances are pretty average, the story is plodding, and the quality of the film itself is not all that great, so it became a little tedious to continue watching about halfway in. The final action sequences towards the end are fantastic though, and made me consider a slightly higher rating. I wonâ(TM)t spoil them, but will just say that theyâ(TM)re both gripping and beautiful, involving the natural scenery and shot from excellent angles. I was less a fan of the final ending itself, which seemed to me to have an invented conflict. Because it seems so unrealistic, it weakens the moral message director Anthony Mann was trying to convey. If youâ(TM)re a fan of the genre, youâ(TM)ll probably like this film a bit better, and if not, itâ(TM)s still watchable for Jimmy Stewart, the action at the end, and the river.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 24, 2013
    As "The Naked Spur" opens, Jimmy Stewart has met an old prospector up in the hills and has hired him on to help track down a dangerous fugitive. This is all the set up required for this movie, as the film takes place wholly within these mountains and forests, and with the exception of the nameless indians who attack them, involves just five people. There's Stewart as Kemp, an amateur bounty hunter, out to get the money needed to buy back his ranch, Jesse the prospector (Millard Mitchell) and Roy the dishonorably discharged, indian-hunting soldier (Ralph Meeker). The three men have been thrown together by chance in order to bring Ben (Robert Ryan) back to justice, along with a young woman (Janet Leigh) Ben has snatched up along the way. Roy isn't very trustworthy, as his constant smiling demeanor lets us know. But it's the prisoner Ben who is the most fearsomely manipulative. He knows it's his neck that's going to be in the noose when they get back, and he tries everything in his power to squirm his way out of the rope they've got him in. The Naked Spur has more than a little in common with "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre", only instead of gold, the treasure is the outlaw. Stewart is in his own way, as hard as Bogart from that film, but Stewart's character is offered a happy ending, if he so chooses to accept it. In that way, The Naked Spur tries to offer a more redeeming morality in the end, and it's not necessarily for the better.
    Devon B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 28, 2011
    this movie is great, seems like it was made more like in the 1970's then the 50's... great acting, a cool storyline, i enjoyed watching this... i think i should start watching more westerns
    Paul A Super Reviewer
  • Dec 23, 2010
    A very tense and focused western without big gunfights and elaborate saloons, but rather, The Naked Spur is a wild west road movie in the vain of Tarantino with a headhunter and a whole bunch of misfits and a woman making their way to Kansas to hand in a criminal and reek in the reward. James Stewart has not played many gritty roles or bad guys but his brooding nature and stern calmness make for a good tough guy. The supporting cast could have been slightly more interesting, but all in all, the ensemble cast does a good job and the most interesting character is definitely Millard Mitchell. The ending is good and not as cheesy as most westerns from that time. I found the film very refreshing for a western and it reminded me of other classics road-trip westerns such as Red River or The Searchers. HX
    Henrik S Super Reviewer

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