Lin McAdam (James Stewart) arrives in Dodge City in hot pursuit of his father’s killer. He wins a coveted Winchester ’73 repeating rifle (known as “the gun that won the West”) in the Fourth of July shooting contest, but the gun is stolen and McAdam sets about retrieving his prize.
The high-powered rifle changes hands repeatedly and each man who comes into possession of it is changed in some way – sometimes for good, sometimes for bad.
This is a fine, mature work: adult, intelligent and moral, creating a laconic new persona for the admirable Stewart. The brilliant black-and-white camerawork is by Garbo’s favourite, William Daniels, and director Anthony Mann’s use of transition (dissolves, fades to black) is exemplary.
The cast is extremely strong. Shelley Winters is excellent, and the supporting players include such versatile character actors as Millard Mitchell, Stephen McNally, Will Geer, and the incomparable Dan Duryea.
Watch out for a pre-stardom Rock Hudson as Indian brave Young Bull, and an even younger Tony Curtis as a cavalry trooper.
Waco Johnny Dean
Dutch Henry Brown
Frankie ‘High Spade’ Wilson
Jay C. Flippen