On June 30th, my husband and I went to a double bill of The Far Country and The Man From Laramie at the Pacific Cinémathèque. Before I present my review of the films, I’d like to pay a brief homage to the cinema itself.
The Pacific Cinémathèque has been our go-to cinema for classic and foreign films for decades. It was there we first saw Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, David Lean’s Oliver Twist, Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, and many other unforgettable movies. Long before we got Turner Classic Movies, the Cinémathèque was where we went for something other than the summer blockbusters. Soon, the Cinémathèque will be relocating and becoming part of the TELUS garden development in downtown Vancouver. Next year will also be its 40th anniversary, so I strongly recommend checking it out and enjoying a truly memorable moviegoing experience.
The Far Country and The Man From Laramie were two Anthony Mann westerns from the 1950s starring Jimmy Stewart. The former depicts Stewart as a nomadic, self-reliant man in the late 19th century. He makes his money driving a herd of cattle from the United States to Canada and then taking his profits to stake a claim during the gold rush. The latter shows a highly ethical, yet vengeful Stewart on a quest to find the man responsible for selling repeating rifles to the American Indians.
It was fantastic to see these two films back to back, as the range of Stewart’s talent is clearly evident. Stewart is often thought of as playing himself in every movie, but I strongly dispute that claim. It is hard to believe that the same man embodies both these characters, as one is easy to dislike and the other evokes sympathy even as he exacts his revenge. The Man from Laramie is by far the better movie, though. The complexity of the story and the supporting characters outweigh the rather thin plot of The Far Country. Yet, this gold rush odyssey is still worth watching for its strong female characters and the beautiful scenery of Jasper, Alberta, where the movie was filmed.
All in all, I very much enjoyed my sixth prize and am looking forward to win number seven! Wish me luck for July!