THE BRAVADOS: When four men who Jim Douglas (Gregory Peck) believes raped and killed his wife escape from their death sentences, Jim sets out to track the men down and enact his own vengeance. An honest man, Jim sees his actions as just and brave, but as he crisscrosses Mexico to exact an eye for an eye, he comes to realize that he has lost something of himself in his self-absorbed quest for revenge. Peck did his best work in characters with strong arcs, and THE BRAVADOS is no exception. Carrying the film from scene to scene, Peck hits his mark dead on when he realizes that the men he is after may actually be innocent, providing an exceptional cinematic moment. Joan Collins does a fine job as Josefa Velarde, an old flame of Jim's, but Peck's real costar is the gorgeous color photography of the mountains and ravines of the Mexican countryside.
BUFFALO BILL: William Wellman skillfully directs the life story of William F. Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill. Based on a story by Frank Winch, there is plenty of action as the stages of his life unfold. The journey begins with his early years as an Indian fighter, jumps to his days as a scout and campaigner for Indian rights, and culminates in a display of his later years of Wild West showmanship.
DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK is John Ford's first film in Technicolor (which had just perfected far richer shadings of color than had previously been possible), and the director uses it to stunning effect. The film stars Henry Fonda as Revolutionary War-era farmer Gilbert Martin, who, in 1776, has returned with his well-born wife, Lana (Claudette Colbert), to his rustic cabin in the increasingly dangerous Mohawk River valley. At first unaccustomed to the harsh physical challenges of frontier life, Lana adjusts to the work at hand and is soon able to help her husband in the fields. Shortly after they learn that the colonies are at war with the British, their farmhouse is attacked and burned to the ground by a party of Tory-led Indians. The feisty Widow McKlennar (Edna May Oliver) provides temporary shelter for the couple, but it's only a matter of time before the Indians launch a more brutal assault. Save for THE QUIET MAN, DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK contains the richest passages of pastoral imagery in Ford's entire canon, the visual beauty nearly upstaging the spectacular and terrifying Indian battles.
IN OLD ARIZONA: The original "Cisco Kid" Western that set off a run of knockoffs in the early days of cinema, IN OLD ARIZONA is historically notable for a number of reasons. An early "talkie" filmed in 1929, it was the first Western with sound to emerge from a major studio, Fox Pictures, making it a revolutionary breakthrough with its cleverly hidden microphones masked by real rocks and shrubs. Warner Baxter received an Academy Award for his portrayal of the Cisco Kid, the "Robin Hood of the West" who was based on a character conceived by O. Henry.