Nashville Scene

DIRECTED BY: Raoul Walsh

REVIEWED: 07-28-97

He may be best remembered for his villainous roles, but in this memorably bizarre 1947 Western, Robert Mitchum is convincing as a sympathetic character, a rancher haunted by an unknown event from the past that makes him the blood enemy of the people he loves. (His surrogate mother is Judith Anderson, who's about as maternal here as she was in Rebecca.) The setting is the Old West, but the unusual structure is pure film noir, and director Raoul Walsh lays on the chiaroscuro, the paranoid atmosphere, and the erotic unease. What's most surprising, though, is how well Mitchum conveys the inner torment of a well-meaning man who's persecuted for reasons he doesn't understand. Those sleepy eyes always seemed to be holding back dirty thoughts; this movie shows they could also hold nightmares.

--Jim Ridley

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