A city tenderfoot toughens up on a long cattle drive in "Cowboy," the last of three westerns that Glenn Ford made with director Delmer Daves; the others being "Jubal" and "3:10 to Yuma." Although not a classic like "3:10 to Yuma," the film is well made, and the literate screenplay by Edmund H. North and Dalton Trumbo was based on the memoirs of Frank Harris, a Welsh writer who actually spent time as a cowhand in the 1870's. Jack Lemmon plays the real-life Frank Harris, a hotel clerk with romantic problems and dreams of becoming a cattleman. Harris also has a little money in the bank, and, at a critical moment, he convinces a successful cattle driver named Tom Reese, played by Glenn Ford, to take him on as a cattle hand. Over the course of a long drive to Mexico, Harris learns the rigors and hard facts of the trail. The cattle drive provides the background for a battle of opposing views between Harris, who values human life, and Reese, who puts the value of a steer above all else.
Although Lemmon initially has to overcome his light-comic image, he eventually succeeds in the dramatic scenes, if slightly less so in the romantic; his love interest, Marlon Brando's first wife, Anna Kashfi, seems an odd, unattainable match for Lemmon. However, a veteran of many westerns, Glenn Ford is excellent; like his Ben Wade in "3:10 to Yuma," the easy-going good-guy image masks a steely toughness that makes him dangerous to cross. Both Lemmon and Ford ably develop their characters as they spar and influence each other during the drive. The two stars are supported by a bevy of veteran supporting players that includes Brian Donlevy, Richard Jaeckel, and Vaughn Taylor. The fine cinematography by Charles Lawton, who also lensed the other two Daves-Ford western collaborations, captures the beauty of New Mexico landscapes.
Glenn Ford was an underrated actor, whose career needs re-evaluation. While "Cowboy" may not be a classic like "Gilda," "The Blackboard Jungle," or "3:10 to Yuma," Ford is in fine form. His biography, Glenn Ford: A Life, penned by his son a few years back, is worthy reading and will re-introduce film lovers to an actor whose star has dimmed since his heyday in the 1940's through 1960's. "Cowboy," among other films, should help restore his reputation and his place in Hollywood history.
Action / Western
Action / Western
Chicago hotel clerk Frank Harris dreams of life as a cowboy, and he gets his chance when, jilted by the father of the woman he loves, he joins Tom Reece and his cattle-driving outfit. Soon, though, the tenderfoot finds out life on the range is neither what he expected nor what he's been looking for...
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March 28, 2016 at 09:51 AM