Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Lusty Men

With Nicholas Ray, his films are usually thinly veiled character studies. His 1952 film The Lusty Men provides such an example. The three major roles showcase the effects of the dangerous sport that is rodeo.

Jeff McCloud (Robert Mitchum) is an ex-rodeo rider who becomes a mentor to Wes Merritt (Arthur Kennedy). Early on, it's clear that Wes has potential, much to the dismay of Wes' wife Louise (Susan Hayward).

By the time Wes makes it big, his personality takes a change for the worse. All that matters to him is making more money off rodeos and keeping it all to himself, a far cry from the original plan between him and Louise. Wes' transformation mirrors that of Midge Kelly from Champion (which also co-starred Kennedy).

Wes' behavior change shocks Louise, but it barely fazes Jeff. He has probably seen it happen before. Maybe such a thing has happened to Jeff himself. Who knows? The script doesn't specify much on Jeff's past, leaving us to wonder...

The Lusty Men is one of those films you can tell was made by a certain director. I don't view that as a bad thing, mind you. Many themes of Ray are easily detectable. Mitchum, Kennedy and Hayward are at the height of their careers in this underseen Nicholas Ray gem.

My Rating: *****

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are appreciated. More so if they are appropriate.