Best of… Series – 1959 – Day of the Outlaw

Day of the Outlaw (André De Toth, 1959)

I think I have decided that when a western is set in an isolated location, it almost guarantees it will be good. Day of the Outlaw is set during winter, in a small ranching/farming town. A group of outlaws roll into town and are pretty much stuck until the weather clears. The members of the group follow their leader’s orders without question, and though there is a looming fear for the townspeople, they are mostly kept safe. I never did understand why these men followed their leader so faithfully. Most of them didn’t seem to like him much and they would have had no trouble overtaking him. But that’s a small flaw in an otherwise great movie.

There is no sign of life outside the town throughout the film. All you get is the looming mountain, in the background of nearly every outdoor shot, almost watching over the entire set of events. Despite the beautiful location, a large portion of the movie is filmed inside. At first I didn’t care for this, but when the last 30 minutes are spent trudging through that snowy mountainside, even as a viewer you begin to long for the cozy indoors established early on (even though this section is a visual feast). So here I am after watching another awesome western, wondering why it took me so long to get into this genre.  9.5/10


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