So, I've been getting up around 6 every morning lately. Shocking for me, but since my evenings are usually spent at my sister's, it lets me get some stuff done. Either writing, or even watching movies.
"The Naked Spur" has been in my queue awhile. Goes with my whole string of Jimmy Stewart westerns I've been watching. ("Bend of the River" is next in that list.) I just sorta happened to bump this one up to the top this week because it also has *cough*Ralph Meeker*cough* in it. Yeah, I got it bad. And he keeps getting cuter in each successive film I've been watching.
I really liked this film a lot. I thought I'd seen it before, but it didn't match at all what I was remembering, so now I wonder. I think I was confusing it with one with Randolph Scott. Plot was tight and a lot of fun. Jimmy Stewart is after outlaw Robert Ryan because he wants the $5000 dollars reward for turning Ryan in so he can buy his ranch back. He gets two unwanted partners, an older broke gold miner and a dishonorably discharged cavalry lieutenant (RM!). Naturally, no one quite trusts the other to split the reward at the end of the road.
The unexpected part? Robert Ryan. Now he's always a solid and dependable actor, but I don't particularly like him. He's usually such a stick in the mud. But here? Wow! He finally gets to relax, and he just goes to town in this role. He plays his captors against each other, sits around smirking when the infighting starts, schemes some more, talks a great line.... he was great! This role is marvelous for him. Just a lot of fun. I don't think I've ever seen him smile or laugh so much in all the other movies I've seen with him combined. And, of course, the fact that he's a nasty, cold-blooded killer beneath the exterior just makes it even better. Color me impressed!
And Ralph Meeker... mmmm, Cavalry uniform suits him well. So does the moustache. He's a crack up in this, unrepentant of his past, and almost as smirky as Robert Ryan at some points. He's got the Arthur Kennedy role here. The guy who's not entirely bad, not quite good, has his moments of bravery, but is mostly just a selfish bastard. Dig it! He goes nicely toe-to-toe with both Jimmy Stewart and Robert Ryan and more than holds his own.