Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bend of the River (1952)

And that wraps up my Anthony Mann/Jimmy Stewart Western viewings. I saved this film for last because it was the only one I'd seen before, when I was young. I'd completely forgotten Rock Hudson was in it, but, well, he had almost no part and should have been cut out anyway. Not that I have anything against him, it's just the plot would have been tighter without him. He didn't add anything other than an extra gun. Besides, he's just so vanilla next to Arthur Kennedy and James Stewart.

Ahhh, Arthur Kennedy. This was the first movie I ever saw him in, and I've liked him ever since. It was kind of funny, because watching it now, I realize the first thing that attracted me to him -- was his horse. Horses were big in my family, well with my mom, anyway. My dad, not so much. She'd always owned and ridden horses, was always talking and watching horses. We watched Westerns as much to see the horses as the shoot-outs and barroom brawls. And in Bend of the River, Mr. Kennedy is riding a buckskin, and that was always my favorite coloring. Hee. But he's fabulous in this, just like in Man From Laramie. All the right shades of charming, brave, shifty, determined, and desperate.

I think it's fascinating how similar his character and Jimmy Stewart really are, how it could easily have been Jimmy Stewart who betrayed Arthur Kennedy instead. They're both skirting the edges of their pasts and future, looking for a new life. Kennedy's just a little greedier, where Stewart wants redemption. Their scenes together are the best in the film and make me grin grin grin. I love the way they each realize who the other is in the beginning, how it's mostly conveyed in looks, not words, because they both have a lot to hide, and they respect each other enough not to give each other away to the settlers. Gotta dig that. I love their Oriole/Indian talk. I love how quick Kennedy is to defend Stewart (a lot quicker than the reverse) multiple times. I love Kennedy's horse. :-D (Hah! Just re-read my review of Man from Laramie, and apparently, he's also riding a buckskin in that movie. That I also had to comment on.)

Julie Adams is the love interest in this, and I couldn't help but be cross with her. This isn't her fault so much as her character's. I seem to have encountered a rash of fickle Julie Adams characters lately, and I'm still mad at her for messing with Joel McCrea's heart in The Gunfight at Dodge City. I think she's just as cold and fickle here. I mean, she's clearly attracted to Arthur Kennedy the moment he appears. She spends months with him in Portland, and then she condemns him completely in less than a minute flat when he turns on Jimmy Stewart. Now, honey, don't you even want to hear his side of it? Stand by your man just a little? Particularly after knowing he's a gambler and already deciding to stay in Portland with him and ignore your family? Sheesh! I would have. At least let him 'splain things. Maybe there was more to his plan, maybe he had grander ideas. But nooooo. She tells him instantly to get lost. Hmph. Silly fickle woman.

But really, I loved the movie very much. And the Mann/Stewart collaborations really are a great series of Westerns. I'd personally rank them as follows:

1. The Naked Spur
2. Bend of the River
3. The Man from Laramie
4. The Far Country
5. Winchester 73

Probably an obvious order for anyone who knows me, me being the plot-girl I am: The Naked Spur is the only one with a really tight story. The others are a little too sprawly, a little too segmented into different sections. And, of course, Naked Spur has Ralph Meeker. And as much as I love Arthur Kennedy, I love Meeker a lot more, even if he doesn't ride a buckskin. LOL!


  1. Ha! I remember being irritated by the chick too! If there's one thing I hate, it's unsupportive chicks. Grrr.

  2. Oh, Arthur Kennedy...another man you and I both love! :)

    I've only seen one of those five westerns you listed: WINCHESTER '73; and love it mainly just for Dan Duryea's character. The Jimmy Stewart and his brother stuff kind of annoy me.

    Rock Hudson is quite 'vanilla', isn't he?

    If vanilla means boring. ;)


    Happy Christmas Eve! :)

  3. Rachel - Yeah... unsupportive chicks do not please me.


    Hiya Ginger -- yeah, Arthur Kennedy is just so cool. I didn't particularly enjoy "Boomerang," even if it was a Dana film, but Arthur Kennedy's presence bumped it up a few notches despite the rest.

    And yeah, vanilla = boring in this context. He does nothing with his role to make it stand out, just sort of looks pretty and sleepwalks.

  4. BOOMERANG! wasn't really one of my personal favorites, either. I thought it was a good movie, but...not one that I'll probably ever watch again.

    Kennedy WAS great in it, though. I think I enjoyed him more than Dana. :)

    Have you seen HIGH SIERRA yet? Kennedy looks the sexiest I've ever seen him! I watched it the other night, for Cornel of course, and then I ended up drooling over Kennedy instead.

  5. Ginger - I just got High Sierra from Netflix yesterday!!!! I saw you mention it, realized I'd never even seen it, didn't even know what it was about, but that it had Arthur Kennedy in it, not to mention my beloved High Sierra... so I added it to the queue. I'll be watching it tonight probably, cuz tomorrow will have to be a Dana movie. Looking forward to it!

    The only films I've ever seen Cornel in are Leave her to Heaven and The Naked Prey (oh and I guess The Greatest Show on Earth... though I tried to put that movie out of my head and haven't seen it since I was a wee thing). Mostly I remember his name only because he was a fencer (though I haven't caught any films where he fences, darn it all).

  6. Oh, let me know when you watch it, if you liked HIGH SIERRA! :)

    I had seen a bit more of it than I originally realized, but completely enjoyed it! One of the better movies I've watched lately.

    As for Cornel: MY whole obsession started by re-watching IT HAD TO BE YOU, and I was thinking that was the only movie I had ever seen him in, but then I suddenly remembered THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH...Yikes. Like you, I had conveniently forgotten that one. ;)

    From Netflix, I got THE NAKED PREY in yesterday, and LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is up next. :)

    "I'll be watching it tonight probably, cuz tomorrow will have to be a Dana movie."

    I know, me too...when I finish blogging, I'm gonna go watch MY FOOLISH HEART or SWAMP WATER.

    Which Dana movie are you gonna watch? :)

  7. Also (forgot to mention...), if you want to see Cornel fence, he does a good duel to the death in FOREVER AMBER, and a rather 'soft'/overly-choreographed fight in A THOUSAND AND ONE far, that's the only sword action I've seen from him, though I imagine he did plenty of fencing on-screen, what with all his epic-adventure/manly type films. :)

  8. Aww, man. Netflix doesn't have Forever Amber. Not that that's particularly a surprise. They don't have a lot of things I'd like to see!

    I liked High Sierra a lot! And yeah, Arthur Kennedy was young and cute. There was one shot of him leeeeeeaning against a tree, hands in pockets that I'll be remembering for awhile... Cornel Wilde cracked me up; he does scared and jittery quite well. And that dog was simultaneously the ugliest and cutest dog I've seen on screen in awhile. What a face! Eek! Oddly, I started out yesterday morning watching a bunch of Warner Bros movie bloopers from the 40's on YouTube... and there were some from High Sierra, though I didn't know it until I watched the movie later and went, "Hey!! I just saw that!" Fun stuff!


    "I know, me too...when I finish blogging, I'm gonna go watch MY FOOLISH HEART or SWAMP WATER.

    Yay, does this mean you have Swamp Water in your possession now? For myself, I wanted to watch Best Years or Walk in the Sun or Crack in the World (I was in the mood for older Dana, and while the movie's cheesy, he's really good in it)... but I ended up with Laura. I only ended up watching the first half. Laura's not one of my favorites, and I just was not in the mood. Sigh. My fault for not putting in what I really wanted to watch.

  9. Hey! I just found out High Sierra was re-made (with the same director!) as a Western with Joel McCrea. I'd like to see that!

    Naturally, it's not out on DVD, but it looks like TCM may air it once in awhile.

  10. Yeah, I've got SWAMP WATER and MY FOOLISH HEART...funny about you watching LAURA: I actually wanted to watch LAURA, but wouldn't let myself! :)

    Considering I've seen it a million times, I was gonna watch one of those two, since I've never seen them, but they don't work on my bedroom dvd player, and I was SO ready to get in the bed...I ended up not watching any Dana movie: I watched his episode of the Twilight Zone instead.

    "I wanted to watch Best Years or Walk in the Sun or Crack in the World (I was in the mood for older Dana, and while the movie's cheesy, he's really good in it)"

    Oh, I haven't seen that one! I like older Dana too...he aged really well.


    I'm so glad you liked HIGH SIERRA! :)

    As for its western remake: Yeah, I remember reading that, but didn't know it starred Joel McCrea.

    I went ahead and checked the TCM database for it, but it's not scheduled anytime soon. I'll keep an eye out for it on the Western channel. :)