Track of the Cat (Wellman, 1954)

Track of the Cat (William A. Wellman, 1954)

Whoa, a tense drama set in the western genre. This was not what I was expecting. Wellman’s film features easily the most dysfunctional family I’ve ever seen in this setting. Tensions are high, certain characters aren’t afraid to make situations as awkward as possible, and others  seem they want nothing more than to disappear. Robert Mitchum is outstanding in the way he portrays a disruptive personality, nearly tearing his family apart even though he only spends about a quarter of the film actually with them. But his presence is always lingering. He is to his family what the unseen panther he hunts is to the cattle.

Despite half of the film being set in the open wilderness, the atmosphere is claustrophobic. The way Wellman shoots contributes, as the camera spends moments behind indoor set pieces, at the bottom of an open grave, and huddled in groups of trees. Overall, this is most definitely a difficult film to view, but an excellent one nonetheless.  8.75/10

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