The Furies


Drama / Romance / Western

IMDb Rating 7.3 10 2748

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN



Barbara Stanwyck as Vance Jeffords
Arthur Hunnicutt as Cowhand
Judith Anderson as Flo Burnett
Walter Huston as T. C. Jeffords

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by EUyeshima 7 / 10

Mann's Compelling Prairie Psychodrama Given the Deluxe Criterion Collection Treatment

There's a lot of Freudian subtext in this unusual 1950 Western, but what resonates most is how director Anthony Mann so smoothly transcends the testosterone-driven genre to come up with an entertaining hybrid of a woman's picture and a Greek tragedy. At the dynamic core of this film is the masterstroke of casting Walter Huston (in his last screen role) and Barbara Stanwyck as a spendthrift father and his headstrong daughter at odds over running the expansive ranch that gives the movie its name. In Roman mythology, the Furies were supernatural personifications of the anger of the dead. As females, they represent regeneration and the potency of creation, which both consumes and empowers. It is this single-minded sense of empowerment that drives Vance Jeffords to usurp her wily father T.C. while seeking his approval at the same time.

Set in 1870's New Mexico, the story written by Charles Schnee ("The Bad and the Beautiful") is steeped in not-so-indiscreet psychological baggage. T.C. lives by his own rules by borrowing liberally from banks, paying hired hands with his own script, and allowing Mexican settlers to live off his land. Unlike her weak-willed brother, Vance enjoys provoking her father but to what end is never clear as an unacknowledged cloud of incest hangs over their strange relationship. At the same time, T.C. has a sworn enemy in gambler Rip Darrow who is looking to avenge his father's death at T.C.'s hands. Vance falls for Darrow, but she's also drawn to Juan Herrera, a childhood friend and one of the Mexicans now considered squatters. Complicating matters even more is the arrival of T.C.'s pretentious fiancée Flo Burnett, a devious socialite out to rid the ranch of the Mexicans and push Vance aside as the female head of the beleaguered family. This ploy leads to a most shocking scene that fits well within the story's noirish shadings.

As T.C., Huston gives a grand performance evoking both as the old prospector in his son John's "The Treasure of Sierra Madre" and the conflicted industrialist in William Wyler's "Dodsworth". Although a bit old for her role at 43, Stanwyck combines her no-nonsense manner with a childlike vulnerability in illuminating Vance's most complex psyche. This is excellent work from an actress who always seemed home on the range. Generally a pliable third lead in films ("Rear Window"), Wendell Corey doesn't lend charisma or a convincing edge to his swagger as Darrow, but Gilbert Roland shines in the smallish role of Juan and strikes sparks with Stanwyck that should have happened with Corey. However, it is Judith Anderson (Mrs. Danvers in "Rebecca") who steals her brief scenes as Flo bringing out a palpable tension with Stanwyck in their almost-comically cutting scenes together (pardon the pun!). Veteran character actress Beulah Bondi also has a nice near-cameo as a banker's wife fully aware of her husband's prideful shortcomings.

The intensely passionate movie swirls in all its psycho-sexual emotionalism and Shakespearean-level acts of murder, revenge and greed, but oddly (and perhaps due to the edicts of studio censors), Mann applies the brakes in the disappointing final portion of the film. Still, it's well worth viewing in the new Criterion Collection's 2008 release chock-full of extras. First, there is the meticulously academic commentary track by Western author Jim Kitses ("Horizons West"). Then there is an interesting 17-minute interview with Mann ("Actions Speak Louder Than Words") conducted just prior to his death in 1967. Another interview is offered with Mann's daughter Nina specifically for this release as she recalls her father's often underrated body of work. More of a curio is a silly, obviously scripted 1931 interview with Huston where he evasively responds to the vacuous questions of a pretty reporter. The original theatrical trailer and a stills gallery round out the extras.

Reviewed by mark.waltz 9 / 10

A dramatic steak for actors to sink their teeth into.

Very few westerns have the psychological impacts that this "Mourning Becomes Electra" like saga dramatizes. Barbara Stanwyck, in the role that must have influenced her "Big Valley" character for TV, is both tough and tender as Vance Jeffords, the western princess of TC Jefford's (Walter Huston) empire. Dare step on her toes, and you won't be able to rest, as love interest Wendell Corey finds out. And dare come between her and her beloved father, and you'll end up with a surprising bit of vengeance as Judith Anderson as a gold-digging San Francisco socialite finds out. John Bromfield appears briefly as Stanwyck's brother who knows that he will never have the affections of his father that Stanwyck has and pretty much resigns himself to the fact that she will be daddy's heir, not him.

Barbara Stanwyck was the Queen of the west, and in almost a dozen Westerns, it was Barbara Stanwyck who gave many a western hero a run for their money. Walter Huston, as her patriarchal father, is a force to be reckoned with who has trained his daughter to be tough. When he betrays her one wish, he also becomes a victim of her vengeance.

There are also Gilbert Roland as a Mexican squatter, her life-long friend who becomes a tool in her father's revenge against her; Blanche Yurka, the great Hungarian stage actress, plays the bit role of his vengeful mama; Even in the small role, we are reminded of her excellent performance as Madame DeFarge in the Ronald Colman version of "A Tale of Two Cities" years before. Just watch her intense eyes as she cackles and curses in Spanish as she pushes huge boulders off the mountain in her effort to prevent Huston and Stanwyck from gaining access to the family's mountain hideaway.

Beaulah Bondi also shows up briefly as a society matron who aids Stanwyck in her efforts to take over the Furies. With all this talent, it is amazing that the scenery wasn't eaten up along the way. The great Judith Anderson, who played many of the types of roles on Broadway that Stanwyck did on screen, is subtle as she tries to worms her way into the role of Queen of the Furies, but it is Stanwyck's ultimate revenge which prevents this from happening. Later, when we get our last glimpse of the beaten Anderson, she gives herself a great exit line. This, ironically, was the second film in which one of Stanwyck's characters had an impact on Anderson's character; In the 1946 film noir, "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers", it is young Martha (who as an adult is played by Stanwyck) who pushes matriarch Anderson down some stairs to her death, giving that film its motivations.

The one problem with this casting is the performance of Wendell Corey, perhaps one of the dullest leading men in Hollywood history. Stiff and unappealing, there is no doubt in the viewer's mind that Stanwyck would never feel any passion for the tree trunk like character. He was perfect as the sap husband of Joan Crawford's in the same years "Harriet Craig" but didn't have the fire that Gilbert Roland did. The previous year's "The File of Thelma Jordan" paired them together and proved that Stanwyck's passion required her to have a man on her side (and in her bed) that was her equal.

Fortunately, Walter Huston is given more screen time, and is absolutely outstanding. He truly deserved an Oscar Nomination for his lively performance. When T.C. faces his final moments on-screen, he does it with such acceptance of his fate that it is truly heartfelt. It was his last film, as he died before the film was released. Stanwyck praised Huston publicly, and at her AFI tribute, Walter's son, director John Huston, praised Stanwyck (whom he had never met) for her professionalism and kindness to his father. The same year's "September Affair" took Huston's old recording of "September Song" and utilized it to great effect. Even by only being heard in that film, he truly made a huge impact, and ranks as perhaps my favorite actor of old Hollywood.

Reviewed by zetes 10 / 10

As good as Mann's best

This Antony Mann Western is little-known compared to his collaborations with James Stewart or Man of the West or a good number of other Mann films, but it's an equal to his best work. Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Huston (in his final performance) star as a daughter and her father, powerful ranchers who own the titular land. Their relationship, much as the title suggests, has a psycho-sexual tinge. When men call on Stanwyck, her father balks. And when hoochies cling to Huston, well, then things get real ugly! The Furies shows Mann bringing a lot of his noir skills to the Western genre. One can easily see how that genre influenced Mann's characterizations, but, in terms of film-making, he had largely moved on. The Furies is just dark and often nasty. I have to wonder why the film is so little known. My thought is that almost all Westerns feature male protagonists, with the most notably exception being Johnny Guitar. I'm not going to rag too much on that film, because I do like it, but The Furies is far superior. Stanwyck was rarely better. I might actually rate this as her best. Huston went out on one of his best performances. It's hard to believe he died before the film was even released with as much energy as he shows. My only real complaint with the movie is that it peaks too early. The standoff at the Herrera's fort is one of the greatest sequences in the history of the genre, and it's so good that the remainder of the film drags a bit. Still, a masterpiece. Thanks again, Criterion!

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