- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Robert Ryan, preying psychopath
- Will Fox
Great ensemble cast staring Jimmy Stewart, cast against type, as America's favorite character actor and a comic, stretching beyond his brand, as "Harvey," a big bunny's Best Friend Forever, buying drinks for everyone. Now, Post-World-War-2 veteran Stewart plays a Post Traumatic Stress Civil War victim, a self centered, desperate, money-grubbing bounty hunter. He is a pilgrim on a long journey toward redemption. Enroute he meets grizzly Millard Mitchell, an old prospector, that is naively manipulated via greed for fool's gold. They soon meet a cavalier, a cavalry cad, played by Ralph Meeker, recently dishonorably discharged from the US Army and most recently, pursued by vengeful Indians. These character actors chase a wanted outlaw. His $5000 bounty is worth a fortune in 1868 dollars. Who better to play the murderous villain than Robert Ryan, the infamous, psychopathic murderer in "Crossfire" (1947) and a particularly nasty, Sundance Kid in "The Return of the Bad Men" (1948). In the "Naked Spur" (1953), after being captured, rascally Robert Ryan rebounds repeatedly, masterfully manipulating modest minds, more money focused. His clever, divide-and-conquer tactics work, setting a great precedent for his mastermind villainy in "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955) as Reno Smith, the racist bully, dastardly deceiver, deadly destroyer that finally goes to prison with his gang of criminals. The "Naked Spur" finale has Jimmy Stewart converted by the Tinkerbell-esque, Janet Leigh, an orphan offering love forever, if he will give up the body of the bounty. Her love redeems.
The Naked Spur
- Dashiell B.
Another tough, brillantly-written Western directed by Mann & starring Stewart. Stewart is excellent as a bounty hunter on the verge of hysteria who sets to capture Ryan's killer, who create's tension among the films group. Beautifully shot in the Rocky Mountains, the film is an excellent study of greed & exploration of the various characters. Brutal and entertaining, a Western well worth watching. I give it a 4.5/5.
The Naked Spur (1953)
- Jay Higgins
Exceptional western. Jimmy Stewart is one of those actors whose mere presence in a film makes it worth watching. He defines the word professional. Well directed, good cinematography.
A Hidden Gem
Jimmy Stewart seems a tad awkward in his western cowboy roles, but we overlook this because we know he is giving his all to his role, and we love every minute. This film is equivalent to a western film noir- dark, mysterious, distant, suspenseful- the juxt of good and evil. And like a great film noir, one can drift off into the cinematic beauty of the film, while the story begins to arise in the eastern sky, shining through the aspens, and a long day later, setting far beyond our view. So few films allow us to immerse ourselves in them, giving us life as we give them.
Depth, comlexity and humanity
James Stewart and Anthony Mann were a rare combination of actor and director. Their western films rival the Stewart/Hitchcock films for psychological depth and complex characters. "The Naked Spur" shows that James Stewart can somehow play dark, even unsympathetic characters yet, still give them a humanity that makes the character appealing. His acting talents were a rare gift and this picture was one of the finest showcases of his emotional range. And Mann, directs all the performers beautifully. Highly recommended. One of our finest westerns.
The series of westerns directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart are rated among the best films of the genre. Many of these movies are available on DVD: "Bend of the River", "Winchester '73", "The Far Country", "The Man From Laramie", etc. "The Naked Spur" is one of the films in the series and, in my estimation, is the best of the bunch. It is very frustrating and I hope that the entities responsible will see fit to fill this major gap in the DVD market.