Man of the West (1958)

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Man of the West is a 1958 American Western film starring Gary Cooper and directed by Anthony Mann, produced by Walter Mirisch and distributed by United Artists. The screenplay, written by Reginald Rose, is based on the 1955 novel The Border Jumpers, by Will C. Brown. The film co-stars Julie London, Jack Lord, Arthur O'Connell and Lee J. Cobb in supporting roles. The film is one of Cooper's final western roles.

Former outlaw Link Jones (Cooper) travels from his small town to Crosscut Texas to catch a train to Fort Worth to hire the town's first schoolteacher. When his train stops for fueling on the way, they are set upon by armed robbers but the train escapes leaving behind Jones, the fast-talking gambler Sam Beasley (O'Connell) and saloon singer Billie Ellis (London). They start walking and eventually reach a place that Link knows well: the farmhouse where he once lived. There he finds the men who robbed the train and their leader, his uncle, Dock Tobin (Cobb), who wants Link to return to his old ways and re-join the gang, which consists of some of Link's cousins. Link has no interest in doing so and has to find a way out for himself and his two companions, knowing the gang are untrustworthy killers.

The film premiered on October 1, 1958. At the time of release, the film was largely panned by American critics, but it was praised by Jean-Luc Godard, who, before he became a director, was a film critic. Godard claimed that Man of the West was the best film of the year. Decades after the film's release, it has gained a cult following and greater acclaim, with film historian Philip French claiming the film to be Anthony Mann's masterpiece, containing Cooper's finest performance.

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