Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The Furies (1950)

Two of the most charismatic actors to grace the screen in Hollywood’s Golden Age were Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Houston. While she is not very well remembered by the large public, some of her films are - which in a way keeps her in people’s memories. Walter Houston on the other hand, is mostly forgotten despite amazing performances, of which I recognise having seen but a handful, the most famous in his son’s The Treasure of Sierra Madre. They both came together in Anthony Mann’s The Furies.

I don’t like regular westerns, cowboys and indians, male dominated worlds where women are ready to be taken by the handsome hero, a world where the goody wears white and the baddy wears black. But I like unusual westerns - stuff like Johnny Guitar, Once upon a time in the West, The Searchers and The Man who short Liberty Valance, and more recently Unforgiven. I can now add "The Furies" to that list.

This is a story of a quasi-incestuous relationship of a landowner and his daughter, the presumptive heiress to his throne. All is well until the father brings a new queen home, which starts a chain of events of which only one can come out alive.

Here's a random list of things I loved about it: the B&W cinematography, Judith Anderson who is amazing as the potential new wife of Walter Huston, Barbara Stanwyck descending the stairs after she has heard of the impending marriage, the hanging scene. It was a blind buy (as much as a major Barbara Stanwyck film is a blind buy) from the nice but overpriced people at Criterion, but it was worth every penny.

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