Howard Hawks’ genius for casually smart entertainment is writ large in his first western.
John Wayne lends his paunchy swagger new layers as Dunson, ranging from mentor (to Montgomery Clift’s Matt) to tyrant over several years on an epic cattle trail.
Dimitri Tiomkin’s lush score and Russell Harlan’s moody cinematography provide majestic backdrops for this sweeping survey of morality in flux.
And Hawks weaves in such tense and thrilling set-pieces, you hardly notice the climax is a bit pat.
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