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Man Without a Star (1955)

Man Without a Star movie poster

Kirk Douglas is the drifter Dempsey Rae, a man with a pathological hatred of barbed-wire fencing. He teams up with Jeff ‘Texas’ Jimpson (William Campbell) when they get thrown off a train and fetch up working for absentee cattle baroness Reed Bowman (Jeanne Crain).  She arrives having purchased a massive number of animals and they start to crowd out the neighbours. The fencing proves a hurdle too far for Dempsey and he has to pick a side when a range war commences. Dee Linford’s novel was adapted by Borden Chase and DD Beauchamp to capitalise both on Douglas’ genial potential (I suspect a rather different real-life persona…)  and the colourful spread of the land, beautifully shot by Russell Metty under the direction of King Vidor. There’s a lovely, lilting score by (the mysteriously uncredited) Hans J. Salter and Herman Stein. The playing by all the major actors is exemplary:  Crain is good as the unsympathetic proprietress and Claire Trevor is terrific as a decent saloon girl and Richard Boone does his usual villainous best as a nasty gunman. Campbell, whom I know better from his Corman outings a few years later, makes a fine impression as the hothead Jeff.  At the time, he was married to a lady called Judith Immoor, whom you might know better under the moniker Judith Campbell Exner. That would be the self-proclaimed mistress of JFK, Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli. That, as they say, is another story.


About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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