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Archive for November 12th, 2013

by Sam Juliano

Anthony Mann passed away before he could realize his long-intended western based on Shakespeare’s King Lear, but a persuasive argument could still be made that both Man of the West and The Man from Laramie have in large measure fulfilled that desire.  Mann’s acknowledged background in Greek and Shakespearean drama no doubt helped the director in fashioning some acute and telling character parallels, while never losing sight of the political turbulence that dogged Hollywood in the 1950’s.  The Cold War era and the McCarthy witch hunts breaded insecurity, paranoia and madness, and these aspects were ingrained in the compromised heroes of several Mann westerns, especially The Man from Laramie.  The final of five fruitful collaborations between Mann and acting icon James Stewart, the film was shot in Cinemascope, which allowed for a greater complexity of composition, and the opportunity to effectively visualize the duality between hero and villain, and how to express more visual depth.   Mann had used this kind of framing in the academy ratio in films such as Bend in the River, but the rectangular framing made the close-ups more dynamic and the landscape within the frame more turbulent. (more…)

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