After looking at Anthony Mann’s Man Of The West, Jean-Luc Godard, in his role as a film critic for Cahiers du Cinéma remarked that “with Mann, one rediscovers the Western, as one discovers arithmetic in an elementary maths class. Which is to sat that Man Of The West is the most intelligent of films, and at the same time the most simple“. Godard and his Cahiers counterparts looked to Mann and other American filmmakers operating on the fringes of Hollywood and producing esoteric, socially-important Westerns in much the same way that they did the directors creating new American art in Film Noir.
This particular strand of the Western is undergoing something of a digital revival at the moment, thanks to a bunch of exciting new and upcoming home video releases. Powerhouse Films today unveiled the Five Tall Tales: Budd Boetticher & Randolph Scott at Columbia, 1957–1960, a set of five films collecting most of the movies from the Ranown Cycle. Fellow upstarts Plan B Entertainment, an off-shoot of the impressive Signal One Entertainment, launched just last week with a superb edition of Delmer Daves’ Broken Arrow, with Raoul Walsh’s The Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw set to follow at the end of March. Criterion’s handsome release of Daves 3:10 To Yuma reached British shores last month, while Arrow have this week put out a solid disc containing Andre de Toth’s Ramrod, with the same director’s The Gunfighter forthcoming from Signal One. An earlier edition of Andre De Toth’s Day Of The Outlaw from Masters Of Cinema, the label who were true pioneers of reissuing many of the Cahiers-favoured Westerns with titles such as Man Of The West and Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns, was one of my most highly praised releases of 2015.
It’s exciting to see such a wonderful era revisited in such extensive fashion.