Friday, May 27, 2005

New on DVD - Broken Lance

Broken Lance
* * * 1/2
1954, Fox, unrated, no extras, $15

Cattle baron Spencer Tracy's sons by wife No. 1 aren't crazy about wife No. 2 (an Indian). Nor do they mind seeing the son of that union — easily the best of the bunch — taking a prison rap for the old man's transgressions. Savvy moviegoers will peg this as an obvious open-spaces transplant of 1949's House of Strangers, in which Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed Edward G. Robinson against a Little Italy New York setting.

Back story: A King Lear knockoff as well, this early stereo/CinemaScope color Western incredibly got the Oscar for best original story, which is otherwise no slam on a yarn well told. This was Tracy's first film away from his long MGM contract, during which he had become a superstar. Richard Widmark plays the rotten oldest brother tormenting Robert Wagner; Katy Jurado, as Wagner's mother, got an Oscar nomination.

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