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With: James Stewart, Arthur Kennedy, Julia Adams, Rock Hudson, Lori Nelson, Jay C. Flippen, Chubby Johnson, Harry Morgan, Royal Dano, Frances Bavier, Howard Petrie, Stepin Fetchit
Written by: Borden Chase, based on a novel by William Gulick
Directed by: Anthony Mann
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: with English subtitles
Running Time: -99
Date: 23/01/1952

Bend of the River (1952)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Banking on It

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

One of five masterful Westerns Anthony Mann made with James Stewart, Bend of the River has man-with-a-past Glyn McLyntock (Stewart) riding along with a wagon train headed west. He rescues a man, Emerson Cole (Arthur Kennedy), about to be hanged and the two become friends but eventually diverge on separate trails. Glyn wishes to successfully deliver food to the settlers while Cole wants to go for higher stakes and cater to a colony of gold miners. Director Mann brilliantly uses the ragged terrain, with its highs and lows, night and day, and even fire, to illustrate the differences between the men. He draws a spectrum ranging from the vulgar miners to the good-hearted settlers, with Glyn stuck square in the middle, unable to get to either side.

Kino Lorber released the film on Blu-ray in 2019; the transfer is as good as possible, but it appears that the film itself is in need of restoration. (The colors are a tad faded.) Nonetheless, this masterpiece is worth seeing no matter what. Bonuses include a commentary track by historian Toby Roan and a trailer.

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