Cowboy is made the year after Delmer Daves and Glenn Ford paired up for 3:10 to Yuma
There are noteworthy contributors here beyond just Glenn Ford. Saul Bass did the opening titles, Dalton Trumbo partially wrote the screenplay (originally uncredited due to the blacklist). But the film is probably most remembered for being the only Jack Lemmon western. He plays Frank Harris. Lemmon is 33-years old here, and this is the first archiveable film for him since his Oscar-winning turn in Mister Roberts (1955)—his first archiveable film overall.
It opens with Lemmon’s character as a hotel clerk (perfect fit) madly in love with Maria Vidal (Anna Kashfi) when Glenn Ford comes rolling into the hotel. Ford plays Tom Reese. He is a cowboy and successful businessman. These are great scenes for Ford as he negotiates cattle prices, asks about the local opera, demands whiskey and hot water from the bellboy.
Lemmon becomes partners and most of the film is about the veteran cowboy vs. greenhorn scenario. Lemmon isn’t bad here. He wells up emotionally when Ford tries to back out on their agreement (Ford’s Reese is pissed he has a partner at all).
The love story does not really work, but the scenes between the two leads do. Lemmon is not blown off the screen by Ford, even on the open prairie. He stares right back at him (even if it takes some time to adjust to seeing him in a cowboy hat and riding a horse).
The film does not deserve the emblematic title frankly. And there are some weak fast-motion scenes of Ford’s stuntman chasing a bull around.
However, right next to that scene is a great frame : two horses in silhouette in the middle of the frame with the mission in the background right (below).
Of course, it is uneven, in the very next scene after the mission shot, the screenplay takes us on another unearned tangent with Lemmon sticking up for a fellow cowboy.
In color, but the tighter 1.37 : 1 ratio
Another flaw is the way the two characters flip mentalities. It happens too quick—unearned in a 92-minute film
Recommend but closer to the fray than the top 10 of 1958. It is not as good as 3:10 to Yuma.
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