The Lonely Man (Levin, 1957)
This review contains slight spoilers.
After 17 years of hating his outlaw father, in a transition to sympathetic, a 20-something Anthony Perkins learns about his father’s past in which a corrupt sheriff was killed during a territory scuffle. “Pa,” he asks, “It wasn’t you who killed that sheriff, was it?” The weathered yet strong and content Jack Palance replies, “It was. It was me killed the sheriff. I killed a lot of men.” In a film about the mending of a father/son relationship, the easy route is to reveal that all the previous animosity was based on a big misunderstanding. But the only thing revealed is that both of his parents screwed up, no one is without flaws, and those flaws can cause life to spiral out of control if not harnessed. Even Perkins’ character shows he has his share of issues as he becomes romantically involved with his father’s ex-lover. But there is healing in this communal brokeness, and when Palance set out to find his son, he wasn’t looking to clear his name; he was seeking the exact healing he finally finds and at the same time provides a healing that his son didn’t even know he needed. All set to a poetic score (such a rare treat for a classic western!) that flows in and out of scenes seamlessly and unobtrusively, and shot beautifully amongst the clouds, rocks, and plains of the scenic countryside. One of the better westerns I’ve seen in a while. 9.25/10