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Man of the West

Anthony Mann

A critical and commercial flop upon its initial release, Man of the West is now viewed as a masterpiece and the best work of both its star, Gary Cooper, and its director, Anthony Mann.

The thin veneer of civilisation cracks all too quickly.

It's not difficult to see why people were initially uncertain about this story of a family man trying to put his past behind him. Mann’s uncompromising vision of violence and redemption, with echoes of King Lear and Greek tragedy, is darker than anything that had been seen in American cinema before. The story sees Cooper’s character Link Jones robbed, stranded and forced to take shelter in the hideout of his old gang (led by Lee J. Cobb as Dock Tobin). Tobin thinks the prodigal son has returned, and as much as Jones tries, the thin veneer of civilisation cracks all too quickly. The stage is then set for an almost apocalyptic showdown.