The Far Country
Aaron Rosenberg for Universal
directed by Anthony Mann
starring James Stewart, Ruth Roman, Corinne Calvet, Walter Brennan, John McIntire, Jay C. Flippen, Harry Morgan, Steve Brodie, Connie Gilchrist, Robert J. Wilke, Chubby Johnson, Royal Dano, Jack Elam, Kathleen Freeman, Connie Van, Eugene Borden, Paul Bryar, Angeline Engler, Robert Foulk, Terry Frost, Carl Harbaugh, Don C. Harvey, Eddie Parker, Stuart Randall, Chuck Roberson, Eddy Waller, Guy Wilkerson, Jack Williams, William J. Williams
written by Borden Chase, music by Henry Mancini, Hans J. Salter, Frank Skinner, Herman Stein
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Hearing news about the Klondike gold rush, adventurer Jeff Webster
(James Stewart) sees a golden opportunity - to drive cattle from Wyoming
up to Dawson City and make a fortune in beef. But in the US-Canadian
border town he runs into opposition when crooked lawman Gannon (John
McIntire) confiscates his lifestock and threatens to hang him. To evade
that, Webster and his sidekick Ben (Walter Brennan) join Ronda Castle's
(Ruth Roman) trek to Dawson City as pointmen - but not before stealing
their cattle back from Gannon and driving them over the border before
Gannon can even react.
Up in Dawson City, Webster sells his cattle to Ronda, who wants to
start a business there, even if it means running the local saloon out of
business, and he and Ben become gold diggers, having no way back to the US
that wouldn't pass through Skagway. Then Gannon and his henchmen appear in
Dawson City, not to arrest Webster or anything - Gannon has no
jurisdiction in Canada - but to steal honest gold diggers claims. In
Ronda, they find a willing accomplice, and Webster, the only one in town
who could stand up to them, does nothing, looking after himself first and
foremost, and really looking for a way to get back to the US without
passing through Skagway after all - and eventually, a native gives him
some pointers, but when he and Ben try to make their getaway, they walk
into an ambush set up by Gannon's men, and Webster's severely wounded and
Ben is killed. And now Webster knows to not only get out of Dawson City
but also find peace with himself, he must face injustice, in the form of
Webster and his henchmen. But as skilled as a gunfighter as he is, the
injuries from the ambush have taken their toll ...
Corinne Calvet plays a tomboyish girl madly in love with Webster but
always sidelined by Ronda Castle.
If classic Technicolor
westerns from the 1950s are your thing, then you're sure to love The
Far Country: It's beautifully shot in great scenery, its direction is
flawless and really stands the test of time, and the cast is universally
first rate. That's not at all to say The Far Country is just
another routine good-vs-evil horse opera though, as it's really a
character driven piece that shows the cracks in its main personnel and
suggests unwritten backstories and the like, and that has its lead
character grow for not necessarily the right reasons - so while this movie
may remain firmly within the confines of the genre, it does play some
interesting riffs on a well-known melody - all for the movie's benefit of
Totally recommended, to fans of classic westerns as well as
everyone else happy to break away from today's tested tried and true
mainstream movie fodder.