Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Kentuckian (1955)

Director: Burt Lancaster

Writers: A.B. Guthrie Jr., Felix Holt

Composers: Bernard Herrmann, Roy Webb

Starring: Burt Lancaster, Dianne Foster, Donald MacDonald, Diana Lynn, John McIntire, Una Merkel, John Carradine, John Litel, Rhys Williams, Edward Norris, Walter Matthau

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Hunter...Frontiersman...Adventurer!

Plot: A Kentucky widower bound for 1820's Texas with his young son is thwarted in his efforts by a corrupt constable, a long-standing family feud, and a beautiful indentured servant.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Playing someone who lacks smarts and an abundance of confidence didn't suit him.  Elias (Lancaster) is a good man but not a learned one so he makes mistakes.  That's all fine and dandy but it's Burt Lancaster for cryin' out loud.  Well, he directed this one so maybe this is exactly what he wanted.  Older Lancaster fans might dig it but I'm rather indifferent with it.  I liked the last few minutes when Elias is under attack...and the riverboat gambling scene was fun but the rest of it is mostly too melodramatic for me to get behind.  OK, and the whip fight with Matthau and Lancaster was pretty darn good.  Shit, and the location shooting at the Cumberland Falls State Park in Corbin, Kentucky, is gorgeous.  The scoring duties were divided between Herrmann and Webb.  Fans of the former will easily be able to recognize which cues belong to him.  It's great seeing Walter Matthau as a villain and in his theatrical screen debut after spending a few years on TV and theater.  It's not a bad picture but it helps to know what you're in for before you start it. I guess in a way it's exactly what you'd expect for a family friendly Western drama from 1955.  The MGM DVD has a great looking anamorphic widescreen transfer and only one extra in a fullscreen (!!!!!!!!!!) theatrical trailer.  Really?  For an early CinemaScope picture they couldn't be bothered to locate a widescreen trailer?  Nuts.  N-V-T-S, nuts.

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