Bend of the River Movie Reviews
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By John Chard January 31, 2017
Biscuits, apples and the troubled past.
The second of five genre defining Westerns that director Anthony Mann made with James Stewart, Bend Of The River is the first one to be made in color. The slick screenplay is written by Borden Chase from William Gulick's novel "Bend Of The Snake," with support for Stewart coming from Arthur Kennedy, Julie Adams, Rock Hudson & Jay C. Flippen.
Stewart plays guide Glyn McLyntock who in 1847 is leading a wagon- train of homesteaders from troubled Missouri to the Oregon Territory. What the group are hoping for is a new start, a paradise, with McLyntock himself hoping for a new identity to escape his own troubled past. But after rescuing Emerson Cole (Kennedy) from a lynching, it's an act that has far reaching consequences for McLyntock and the trail once they get to Portland.
In typical Anthony Mann style, McLyntock is a man tested to the maximum as he seeks to throw off his shackles and find a new redemption within a peaceful community. Cloaked in what would be become Mann's trademark stunning vistas (cinematography courtesy of Irving Glassberg), Bend Of The River is often thought of as the lighter tale from the Stewart/Mann partnership; most likely because it has more action and no little amount of comedy in there. But although it's a simple story in essence, it is given a hardboiled and psychological edge by the makers. An edge that asks searching questions of its "hero" in waiting. Can "McLyntock" indeed escape his past? And as a "hero" is it OK to use violence when he is wronged? Potent stuff that is acted with tremendous gravitas by Stewart.
Very recommended picture, but in truth all five of them are really. 7/10