The Naked Spur

1953

Drama / Thriller / Western

1
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 76%
IMDb Rating 7.3 10 10695

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
September 28, 2021 at 03:27 PM

Director

Cast

Robert Ryan as Ben Vandergroat
Ralph Meeker as Roy Anderson
Janet Leigh as Lina Patch
James Stewart as Howard Kemp
720p.BLU
841.85 MB
988*720
English 2.0
NR
23.976 fps
1 hr 31 min
P/S counting...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jpdoherty 7 / 10

Still An Exciting Western.

MGM's THE NAKED SPUR (1953) is another much treasured classic western from the fifties. It was one of six collaborations between director Anthony Mann and James Stewart set in the great American west that began in 1950 with the brilliant "Winchester 73" and ended with the disappointing "Night Passage" in 1957. Although he was in a western before in 1939 with "Destry Rides Again" "Winchester 73" would change the screen image of James Stewart forever. Now he would become a formidable western icon joining the ranks occupied by John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea and perhaps to a lesser degree Henry Fonda and Glenn Ford. James Stewart became a great screen presence in westerns and his characterizations in them suited him to perfection and arguably never more so than in THE NAKED SPUR. Produced by William H.Wright for the studio the Acadamy Award nominated script was by Sam Rolfe and Harold Jack Bloom. With an atmospheric score by Polish composer Bronislau Kaper (one of his few scores for a western) and stunningly photographed in colour by William Mellor on locations in the Colorado Rockies it was all stylishly directed by Mann.

Stewart plays Howie Kemp a bounty hunter on the trail of wanted killer Ben Vandergroft (Robert Ryan) in the rough terrain of the Rockies. He crosses trails with an old prospector Jesse Tate (Millard Mitchell) who joins up with him as a sort of pathfinder and later by a disgraced decommissioned ex-cavalry officer Roy Anderson (Ralph Meeker) who enlists himself as a helper in catching the killer. On hearing there's a reward of $5000 for the capture both Jesse and Roy now want their share. Howie needs help to bring the killer in so he agrees to splitting the money. They eventually take Ben prisoner and start the journey back. But the return trip is long and fraught with danger from inside and outside of the group. First they are attacked by a hostile band of Indians (an excellent action sequence) and later Ben starts to slyly play each member of the group against each other creating jealousy and suspicion among them. This results in Roy wanting to cut Howie out of the reward money entirely while Ben bribes Jesse to help him escape. It all comes to a tragic and watery end in an action filled finale at a rapid flowing river.

There is a cast of only five players in the picture and the performances of all concerned are quite brilliant. Stewart is superb as the main protagonist. His temperamental angst filled and Ah! Shucks demeanour is as appealing as ever. Good too is Millard Mitchell (reunited with Mann and Stewart after "Winchester 73") in a Walter Brennan type role as the likable but ultimately ill-fated Jesse and Ralph Meeker plays a great part as the sly and dishonourable ex cavalry officer. But it is Robert Ryan who steals the show as the wanted killer. His viciousness and devious nature well concealed behind a sniggering and playful false persona. Curiously there is the presence of a female in the shape of Janet Leigh as a feisty tomboy girl who accompanies Ben on the run. But her being with him is somewhat implausible and isn't really convincing. However she was probably cast to provide the movie with a little romance and be someone our hero could ride off into the sunset with in the final frame. Nothing wrong with that I suppose!

THE NAKED SPUR is an outstanding western and has lost none of its glow over the years and like all classic westerns it just gets better and better with the passing of time.

Reviewed by gaityr 8 / 10

Great Western with *real* characters for once!

What I imagine makes THE NAKED SPUR stand out among other Westerns is its close, intimate focus on a small band of characters--for once, the motivations of the cynical bounty-hunter, the luckless gold prospector, the brash ne'er-do-well, the slick outlaw are actually all explored and explained as best as psychology can allow. The focus isn't on the action, though there's plenty of that too; one really gets the idea that the action is peripheral to the character development, to the glimpses of history given by snatches of dialogue. James Stewart turns in a riveting performance as Howard Kemp, the embittered rancher turned bounty-hunter, who is seeking outlaw Ben Vandergroat (Robert Ryan) for the $5000 price on the latter's head. What Howard doesn't gamble on is the people added on to his journey along the way--the prospector Jesse Tate (Millard Mitchell), who's been running after gold all his life but has never managed to catch up to it; the reckless ex-soldier Roy Anderson (Ralph Meeker), discharged from the army for being 'morally unstable'; and the young feisty Lina Patch (Janet Leigh), Ben's companion.

Throw this bunch of opposites in a trek back to Abilene, Kansas is a recipe for great drama: for example, the mini Indian massacre Roy brings about that gets Howard shot in the leg; the rock avalanche Ben starts to try to escape after sending Lina to distract Howard... even the even-tempered, apparently rational and loyal Jesse being so blinded by his life's pursuit that he frees Ben in return for gold and certainly winds up regretting it. Throughout the trek, one sees Ben's true duplicitous side, as he charmingly manipulates each and every other member of the group into distrusting one another. He knows Howard as well, from back in Abilene, and he is the one who lets us in on some of Howard's painful past. (Brilliantly illustrated by the fevered dreams Howard suffers from while still in shock from the bullet in his leg.)

The entire small cast is excellent. Ryan is slimily charming, Mitchell plays Jesse straight and honestly, Leigh brings off a rather thankless, almost characterless role well (her character is probably the least well developed in the film). It is James Stewart, however, who really deserves special mention for his portrayal of Howard Kemp... particularly since he'd first thought that he was supposed to be playing the role of Ben Vandergroat, and had to be talked into taking the risk and playing Howard Kemp. One can certainly see why: Stewart's stock-in-trade is as the undeniably good hero, with whatever--if any!--psychological darkness (see George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life) always lurking just beneath the surface but never enough to damage the character's positive standing in the audience's eyes. So of course, it's not easy to accept Stewart as the cynical, rude Howard at first--this probably is the least sympathetic character he has ever played, since the cracks in his tough, mean veneer come very seldom during the course of the film (and kudos to the writers for not having Stewart's innate goodness shine through more often and therefore use the audience's sympathies for the actor to bring some for the character).

Howard is driven and relentless, as evidenced with the near psychosis he brings to his task of capturing Ben. From his sullenness when Ben reveals how much the capture really is worth, through to the final exciting sequence when Kemp pulls himself up the rock to face his nemesis (thereafter making it clear why the film is given the title of 'The Naked Spur'), Howard Kemp is evidently a man who no longer trusts even *himself* to do the good thing. Quite a twist on the James Stewart persona, and certainly one he pulls off with great aplomb. His final scene with Janet Leigh, as Howard has to decide whether he can stand to lose his future to his past, definitely stands proud as some of Stewart's greatest work.

I watched this film largely because of a great review I'd read of it for Stewart's performance, and there is no denying that that is surely a good enough reason to watch this film. Stewart outdoes himself. Still, I got a lot more than I'd bargained for, because this really is an excellent, psychologically-charged Western as well--the kind that makes you feel and think, and it's only the better films that make one do that.

Reviewed by Nazi_Fighter_David 9 / 10

A must-see for the fans of Westerns movies...

While "Bend of the River" rhymes the tale of pioneers seeking home in a mountain wilderness with ex-outlaw Stewart's desperate efforts to escape his past, "The Naked Spur" (with two Academy Award Nominations for Best Story and Screenplay) deals with all characters motivated by greed with Stewart's bounty hunter portrayed as no less violent and neurotic than his murderous victim... Stewart gives a performance so intense and taut as to border, in the words of one critic, on the hysterical...

Geographical odyssey reflects the hero's spiritual struggles with panoramic and outstanding views of the Rockies at their best... Beautifully photographed in Technicolor, the film tells the story of a forceful and aggressive Stewart, once a landowner cheated out of his property, who has taken the bounty hunting as the quickest way to regain a measure of respectability...

Stewart is hot on the trail of a wild killer (Robert Ryan) who has a $5000 reward on his head, dead or alive... Once captured, the obscure wily outlaw turns the bounty hunters against each other, and almost escapes...

Janet Leigh is cast as "a fancy-talking" jealous type, and apparently, Stewart finds his renewed decency thanks to our heroine... In a widely admired scene, Stewart breaks down and weeps, finally understanding the inhumanity of his bounty-hunting obsession, and is set free for his preoccupation with the fastened body as a merely rewarded property...

Meeker challenges Stewart in his tense, hostile projections, and Ryan is in his element as the crooked hunted killer...

With a short hair and hardly a make-up, Janet Leigh plays the tough, spirited, uneducated pretty companion of a murderer... She does her best to control the energies of four men, who include a discharged cavalryman with dishonor and a selfishly greedy guide (Millard Mitchell).

Mann-Stewart third movie is a visually an absorbing celebration of violent deeds, a big Western regarded as one of the best ever made, a must-see for the fans of Westerns movies...

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