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I'm not a film critic, but I'll tell you what I think about the movies I watch. I enjoy understanding the history behind the movies we watch, as well as the collaborative effort necessary to produce movies.

Jimmy Stewart: Winchester ’73 (1950)


Winchester ’73 is a landmark film for Stewart and for the western genre as a whole. The movie stars Jimmy Stewart, Shelley Winters, and Dan Duryea. This was the first and only time that Winters and Stewart would share the screen. Dan Duryea would later appear in Thunder Bay and The Flight of the Phoenix with Stewart. This was also the first of eight films that would bring Stewart together with director Anthony Mann.

Winchester ’73 follows the journey of a prized rifle as it brings grief to all who possess it. As Lin McAdam (Stewart) pursues Dutch Henry Brown (Stephen McNally) across the country they find themselves competing for the Winchester rifle in a contest in Dodge City, Kansas. When the rifle is stolen it begins it’s journey from owner to owner as bad men fight for the prized gun. Meanwhile Stewart meets Lola (Winters) and Steve (Charles Drake) who are traveling together. When Steve and Lola find themselves in the grips of Waco Johnnie Dean (Duryea) it’s up to Lin to save them. As he works to save them he’s forced to confront Brown and face the real reasons behind his pursuit.

The brilliance of this movie is the dark and selfish nature of Stewart’s character. Until this film westerns were known for good guys and bad guys. This film blurred the line and created a more psychological storyline. Anthony Mann was not known for westerns prior to this movie, having made several film-noir films in the years preceding this. With Winchester ’73 you can see the influences of the film-noir style on the camera work and lighting.

The acting throughout the movie is wonderful. Stewart’s character is conflicted and revengeful, and dark, all elements that were uncommon from his previous roles. Winters does a good job being more than just a damsel in distress throughout the film. Dan Duryea is equally good as the hapless Waco Johnnie Dean. Future stars Rock Hudson and Tony Curtis are also featured in smaller roles throughout the film.

Ironically, this film was only made as part of a concession to Stewart from Universal-International. Stewart agreed to make Winchester ’73 only after the studio agreed to make Harvey. Under the agreement Stewart received a portion of the profits from both movies. Ultimately both of these movies were successful, making this a good deal for the studio and Stewart. Anthony Mann and Stewart wouldn’t have to wait long to work together again. They would work together on the movie Bend of the River in 1952.

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17 Comments on “Jimmy Stewart: Winchester ’73 (1950)”

  1. Matt Stewart January 23, 2012 at 10:34 PM #

    Great! More Jimmy Stewart, I love it :)

    Like

    • jeffro517 January 24, 2012 at 1:31 AM #

      He’s my favorite actor and his career is fascinating to me. I’ll be continuing on his films for some time. There are over 80 total and I’m still gathering copies of some of them.

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Jimmy Stewart: The Naked Spur (1953) | Did You See That One? - January 25, 2012

    […] classic The Naked Spur. By the time this film was released Stewart and Mann had worked together on Winchester ’73, Bend of the River, and Thunder Bay. This film was an instant success both critically and […]

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  2. Jimmy Stewart: Thunder Bay (1953) | Did You See That One? - January 25, 2012

    […] The Glenn Miller Story, The Far Country, and Strategic Air Command. Dan Duryea had already been in Winchester ’73 alongside Stewart and would go on to appear with him in Night Passage and Flight of the […]

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  3. Jimmy Stewart: The Glenn Miller Story (1954) | Did You See That One? - March 28, 2012

    […] worked together a number of times over the course of their careers. This collaboration started with Winchester ’73 and continued with films like The Naked Spur and Thunder Bay. Each of those films carried a story […]

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  4. Jimmy Stewart: Strategic Air Command (1955) | Did You See That One? - September 11, 2012

    […] by Anthony Mann who worked regularly with Stewart. Their collaborations included movies like Winchester ’73 and The Naked Spur. Each of their films took on the themes of personal risk versus a higher […]

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  5. Joe Kidd | Did You See That One? - June 19, 2014

    […] of men in white hats and villains in black suits. Instead, this Western takes on the Anthony Mann (Winchester ’73) version of the anti-hero. The flawed hero and the more flawed villains are almost expected, but […]

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  6. Red River | Did You See That One? - July 25, 2014

    […] came from a serialized story, titled Blazing Guns on the Chisolm Trail, written by Borden Chase (Winchester ’73) and published in the Saturday Evening Post. Later Chase paired up with Oscar-winning writer […]

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  7. Jimmy Stewart: Two Rode Together (1961) | Did You See That One? - July 25, 2014

    […] includes Shirley Jones (The Music Man), Andy Devine (The Red Badge of Courage), and John McIntire (Winchester ’73). The story might have been weak, but the acting is still really good. The chemistry between […]

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  8. Jimmy Stewart: The Man from Laramie (1955) | Did You See That One? - July 31, 2014

    […] two had worked on some of the best films of Stewart’s post-war career. This list includes Winchester ’73, Bend of the River, The Naked Spur, and The Far Country. Each film featured the troubled and […]

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  9. Some Like It Hot | Did You See That One? - November 2, 2014

    […] Thoeren (Mrs. Parkington) and Michael Logan (Fanfare of Love). The cast includes Tony Curtis (Winchester ’73), Jack Lemmon (Glengarry Glen Ross), Marilyn Monroe (How to Marry a Millionaire), and George Raft […]

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  10. Jimmy Stewart: The Greatest Show on Earth | Did You See That One? - February 28, 2015

    […] This was an interesting choice of roles for Stewart, who was still commanding big salaries for leading roles. While the critics hammered this film, it still managed to win Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. 1952 ended up being a productive year for Stewart. After this film, Jimmy Stewart went on to work on do Bend of the River and Carbine Williams, which were both released in 1952. Bend of the River was a continuation of his great working relationship with director Anthony Mann (Winchester ’73). […]

    Like

  11. Jimmy Stewart: The Far Country | Did You See That One? - March 20, 2015

    […] this film features a darker story that works on the theme of redemption. Borden Chase, who wrote Winchester ’73, also penned this […]

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  12. Jimmy Stewart: Bend of the River | Did You See That One? - March 21, 2015

    […] and intense presence. This film was their second project together, following the success of Winchester ’73. This film reconnected Stewart with Rock Hudson (Giant), who had also been in Winchester ’73. […]

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  13. Jimmy Stewart: Night Passage (1957) | Did You See That One? - September 2, 2015

    […] for this film came from Norman A. Fox (Gunsmoke) with the screenplay completed by Borden Chase (Winchester ’73). The rest of the cast included Audie Murphy (The Red Badge of Courage), Elaine Stewart […]

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  14. Jimmy Stewart: Broken Arrow (1950) | Did You See That One? - September 23, 2015

    […] and Anthony Mann. The two would make the first of their eight films together with the incredible Winchester ’73. Still more success came from Broken Arrow. The film earned Oscar nominations for Best Screenplay, […]

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  15. My Darling Clementine | Did You See That One? - October 22, 2015

    […] Searchers). This film is based on a fictionalized biography of Wyatt Earp written by Stuart Lake (Winchester ’73). The screenplay was written by Samuel G. Engel (Blue, White and Perfect) and Winston Miller (The […]

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