Movie Mars

Broken Lance DVD

Edward Dmytryk directed this literate Western, a remake of THE HOUSE OF STRANGERS, which is itself loosely based on Shakespeare's KING LEAR. Tyrannical cattle baron Matt Devereaux (Spencer Tracy) has raised his older sons harshly, leaving them neglected and bitter, particularly Ben (Richard Widmark). Matt's youngest son, Joe (Robert Wagner), however, receives the most attention from Matt's wife, a Comanche indian (Katy Jurado). Joe remains loyal, even taking the rap when the old man gets hauled up on charges of launching a raid on a nearby copper mine. After spending three years in jail, Joe comes home to find his dad dead from a stroke, his mother back with her tribe, and his brothers running the ranch into the ground. Joe, understandably shocked and enraged, then plots his revenge.

The film features a solid script by Richard Murphy and strong supporting performances by Hugh O'Brien, Eduard Franz, Earl Holliman and E.G. Marshall. It's interesting to see Spencer Tracy in such an unsympathetic light as the patriarch; his scenes with Jurado comprise some of the film's best moments.


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