Monday, July 18, 2011

Pursued (1947)

An Overlooked 40s Western Gem

- Set in the New Mexican Territories at the turn of the 20th Century, Pursued is a well-made 1947 western about Jeb Rand (Robert Mitchum) and his struggle against a dark past. Jeb's family disappeared when he was a boy - though he does not know how or why. Being raised by the Callum family, Jeb falls in love with Thorley Callum and hopes to start a new life with her. However, Jeb's life quickly becomes complicated and dangerous when his mysterious past reemerges and relentlessly pursues him. Pursued grabs the audience's attention and jumps headfirst into a pool of excitement within the first few minutes - what follows is an interesting and enjoyable story that takes plenty of jaw opening twists and turns throughout the film.

Robert Mitchum stars as Jeb and gives a very fine performance that ranks among his most impassioned and very best. Mitchum portrays a smooth toughness and quiet desperation in Jeb, creating a perfect cinematic hero for all to easily rally behind. Teresa Wright also co-stars as the sweet Thorley and Judith Anderson gives a strikingly great performance as 'Ma' Callum.

One really does not see westerns as dark as Pursued very often. Cinematographer James Wong Howe (The Thin Man (1934), Hud (1963)) really does the film good with his thick shadow-laced picture and wonderfully captured scenery. Director Raoul Walsh (The Roaring Twenties (1939), White Heat (1949)) orchestrates every tense, tender, and action-packed scene very well and Max Steiner's haunting score kicks the film's mood into high gear. Pursued does have a couple of small hiccups due to some cheesy dialogue - but, overall, it is a great and largely under-appreciated 40s western.

CBC Rating: 9/10

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