The third of five collaborations between director Anthony Mann and star Jimmy Stewart, The Naked Spur is yet another western that has made the list, so after the trails of westerns that have come before, this had better be something special, right? Well, don’t worry, this is an Anthony Mann western, so you’ll be getting your money’s worth here. Thanks to TCM, I saw this back to back with The Man from Laramie, so a bit of comparison is going to be evident.
The story is similarly ornate, with a tightly woven narrative that never strays from whatever action it needs to have happen. This one has a much smaller frame than Laramie did, and indeed the film looks much more personal as a result, almost cozy in comparison, as weird as that would be to say about a western such as this. The setting is much more forested and mountainous than the open dust-swept plains of most westerns, so it is a bit of a change of pace, but the content is undeniably western. The interplay between all of the principal players is the most fun the film gives us, and indeed is the core selling point besides just the fact that it’s an Anthony Mann western.
I was less pleased with this one than I was with The Man from Laramie. Maybe it was the smaller scale of the visual aesthetic, maybe it was the less complex plot, or the change of scenery, but I wasn’t as enamored with this as I expected to be. Most of this is due to the contrast between this and Laramie, which is unfair to this film, as it is still a well done western with much to offer. Again, as with Laramie, if you’re not a fan of westerns this will probably do little to change your mind, but this is a pretty unique one even for a western, and one that’s certainly worth the somewhat short running time.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10