Far Country

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Product Description

The far country of the title is Alaska, where James Stewart, a cold-hearted cattleman, and his sidekick Walter Brennan, a garrulous old codger, drive a herd of cattle to cash in on the gold rush. Stewart is the ultimate loner, a point the film takes pains to paint as he watches helpless miners murdered by a gang of thugs without lifting a finger. John McIntyre plays his nemesis, a magnetic but corrupt Roy Bean-like judge and merchant who preys off the miners passing through his town and steals Stewart's cattle in the name of justice. Stewart, after signing on to lead saloon owner Ruth Roman's wagon train to the mining camp, steals back his herd and makes himself a respectful enemy: "I'm gonna like you. I'm gonna hang you, but I'm gonna like you," grins McIntyre. The rest of the film is a battle for Stewart's soul, between resolute individualism and community activism, between bad woman Roman and good girl Corinne Calvet (one of the film's weakest elements, admittedly, as the sparks between Stewart and Roman are far more exciting than Calvet's silly kewpie doll in flannel). The Far Country is largely shot on studio sets and pulls out familiar Western tropes not usually seen in his films, but Mann brings an edge to the drama with explosions of cold-blooded violence and a brilliant final shootout that plays out on a split-level plain. --Sean Axmaker

Customer Reviews:

  • A Classic Western set in the far north
    Made in 1955, The Far Country is a traditional western with a host of western stars of the era. Traditional in story, not in location: the story occurs in Alaska and Canada. The scenery and cinematography are great and the cast plays an interesting set of characters not normally found in run-of-the-mill westerns. Stewart plays a hard case, but in the end, reluctantly does the right thing. My favorite Stewart western isThe Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, but this is a fine film with a great cast with able-handed direction by Anthony Mann.

    Fun movie. If you like Jimmy Stewart, westerns, Anthony Mann, or vintage 50s films, you will want The Far Country in your library.
    ...more info
  • The Far Country
    Another great DVD The Far Coubtry James Stewart and (Anthony Mann director). James Stewart is great once again, the scenery is superb, a good story about a rough town, gold happy claim jumpers and shoot outs.When things are out of controll Stewart takes charge in a hge shoot out. This completes my James Stewart collection,recomend this DVD.M.Innes Australia....more info
  • Lady killer vs. man killer in Klondike
    This is mostly a story about the growing relationship between cowboy Jeff Webster(Jimmy Stewart) and femme fatale Ronda Castle(Ruth Roman). She takes an instant liking to Jeff with just a brief encounter on the deck of the steamer to Skagway, and a longer look when he hides in her cabin while authorities look for him, charged with murder. They find out they have some important things in common, besides an animal attraction. Namely, neither dares to trust a member of the opposite sex, having apparently married to spouses who cheated on them. Gradually, they learn to trust each other, as they journey from Skagway to Dawson. But Ronda clearly has close dealings with corrupt Sheriff Gannon and engages in some shady practices in her Castle saloon in Skagway. She eventually is forced to decide between Gannon and Jeff. Meanwhile, a young naive French woman, Renee, also takes an immediate liking to Jeff, but only gets insulting brush offs in return. Clearly too young for him, he thinks. Yet, she sticks with him in his travels from Skagway to Dawson and his activities around Dawson. Along with Ronda, she nurses him back to health after he is left for dead by Gannon's gunslingers at his gold claim. Walter Brennan, as Ben, serves as Jeff's long time sidekick. He doesn't have a meaty role, but he does serve to soften Jeff's hard edges. His demise symbolically opens the door for a woman companion replacement for Jeff.
    John McIntire, as sheriff Gannon, makes probably the most charismatic evil town boss you will ever see on film, oozing charm and humor to go along with his bullying. He makes a believable incarnation of the infamous Soapy Smith, who spent his last years in Skagway, as one of the premier con men of his era. Evidently, Gannon sees something of himself in Jeff, repeatedly declaring that he's going to like him(and kill him).
    Jeff is the quintessential antihero, a loner(except for companion Ben) who doesn't want to stick his neck out for others, even when he knows he is the one right man for the job. In this respect, he closely resembles Burt Lancaster's character in "Vera Cruz", for example. Thus, Jeff not only turns down the job of marshall of Dawson, he is about to leave the Yukon after Gannon's gang moves in with clear intentions of taking over everyone's insufficiently legal mining claims, while disposing of some of the miners and suggesting that the rest make a hurried exit from the Yukon while they are still alive. Even Ronda suggests that she and Jeff best leave together quickly. Then, Jeff has a sudden change of heart, apparently still nursing a desire for revenge for the shooting of Ben and himself. He changes from antihero to hero in leading the expulsion of Gannon's gang from Dawson. In this respect, he differ's from Lancaster's character, who never reforms. But, is Jeff truly changed or just carrying out revenge for wrongs committed against his own interests, which happen to benefit the whole town? We'll never know.
    The main problem I see with the plot is the 2 principle women. Clearly, Ronda is groomed as the right woman to tame Jeff. Although she is clearly characterized as a "bad" girl, Jeff has a checkered past himself, having shot at least 5 men within the past few months, and having stolen back his cattle from Gannon. Ironically, soon after Jeff transforms from an antihero into a hero, Ronda makes a similar change in running into the dark street to warn Jeff of Gannon's impending ambush. She dies as a result, and Jeff asks why she didn't just look out for herself(his supposedly just adandoned creed!).
    It's clear that Corinne Calvet, as Renee, just doesn't make a credible substitute for the dead Ronda, in Jeff's mind. Yet, the clear suggestion of the parting scene is that they get together, even though they never visibly exchange a kiss or hug, just a hand on hand as a start. Her image as a "good" girl is somewhat compromised by her job in Ronda's saloon of bumping miners weighing their gold dust and pushing the spilled dust on the floor, which she later recovers. Also, I'm very unclear about her relationship with Rube Morris(Jay Flippen), a middle-aged miner, who follows her around and later works a claim with her.(He's not her father).
    Another flaw is the amateurish handling of the terminal gunfight between Jeff and Gannon's gang. If Gannon had any skill at all with a pistol, he should have killed or seriously wounded Jeff under that boardwalk before Jeff did the same to him. And how did Jeff's badly shot up right hand suddenly become well enough to shoot a pistol with apparent ease? I also wonder what Jeff and friends did to help the victims of the avalanche. They were too far away to get there in time to pull them out alive from under the snow, even if they knew where they were! And why weren't most of Ronda's pack horses or mules also buried by the avalanche?
    You will see a host of probably nameless but familiar faces among the miners around Dawson and among Gannon's gang. The sequences shot in the Canadian Rockies provide a breathtaking backdrop to the action. All-in- all, a very entertaining western, with most of the major flaws concentrated at the end. No doubt, great liberties with history and geography were taken, especially the parts taking place in the Canadian Yukon which was, in fact, much tamer than the US Skagway. No Jeff would have been required to quickly rid the Yukon of any Gannon-like badmen....more info
  • The Far Country
    Absolutely loved The Far Country. I was not disappointed it contained everything I had expected in Jimmy Stewart and the scenary was breathtaking. ...more info
  • great western, great message
    ok, we all know these westerns have a message in them somewhere. often it is a message the supports some aspect of the american way of life. the message of this movie is that life isn't worth living unless you are part of something larger than yourself. jimmy stewart's character, jeff, finds this out the hard way. after a number of years as a loner, he finally realizes that he should he others protect their community and their dreams. but this only happens after a fair measure of abuse at the hands of some bullying petty criminals. after he comes out of it the bad guys get gunned down in short order. overall, really good and enjoyable. get it. ...more info
  • I'm gonna hang you, but I'm gonna like you.
    Some time back Humphrey Bogart was selected the number one male screen legend by the A.F.I. (American Film Institute or Asinine Film Idiots, take your pick.) Cary Grant came in second and James Stewart third. Without taking away anything from any of these fine actors, I think this is outrageous. I mean, how many light comedies was Bogart in? How many westerns was Grant in? In my opinion James Stewart was the greatest male film actor ever, and I'd knock Bogart all the way down to ninth place (between James Cagney and Spencer Tracy.) Then again, I've never thought CASABLANCA was "The Movie," so I suppose I'll never understand.
    Now that I've got that out of my system.... James Stewart DID star in a number of westerns, and his best were made in collaboration with Anthony Mann. THE FAR COUNTRY may not be the best, but it's a strong entry. Stewart plays Jeff Webster, a loner who's only friend is Ben Tatum (Walter Brennan.) Mann works by throwing opposites in the air and watching what gravity does to them - Ben is domestic and social (he talks about settling down with Jeff on a small ranch in Utah), Jeff is anti-social and footloose.
    THE FAR COUNTRY begins in the port of Seattle, where Jeff arrives with a herd of cattle intended for the beef hungry (and rich) gold country of Alaska. He also arrives with two fewer drivers than he began with - he shot them, we are told, because they left the drive and took his cattle with them. Watching Stewart's suspicious eyes narrow and his hand hover over his guns after he returns guns to the two remaining drivers ("Here. You've been waiting to use them for 500 miles.") you can tell that he's an effective enforcer of frontier justice.
    Jeff and Ben meet an even more effective enforcer when they reach Skagway. Sheriff Gannon (John McIntire) is the only irredeemable character in the movie. Quick on the draw and cop, judge and jury in the wild frontier town of Skagway Gannon is totally corrupt. Stewart's two love interests, Good Girl Renee Vallon (Corinne Calvet) and Bad Girl Ronda Castle (Ruth Roman) round out the strong cast of major characters.
    McIntire is delightfully wicked as the stove-pipe hat wearing hanging judge. Sheriff Gannon is motivated by greed and sadism, and McIntire plays him with gusto. Stewart explores the darker side with his customary intelligence and talent - Jeff Webster is a difficult role, and Stewart makes his journey from misanthropy to social consciousness utterly convincing. Roman is the beautiful saloon owner who may be redeemed by love. Calvet is the French gamin whose beauty (Calvet was a pin-up model in the late `40s and early `50s) is hidden beneath a wool stocking cap and behind a heavy flannel shirt.
    Brennan, his upper dental plate out in this one, is the bridge between Jeff Webster and the rest of society. His sin is too much sociability. For my money, Brennan is a can't-miss actor. If he's in it, it's probably good.
    The film was shot on location in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, and it looks magnificent.
    If you're familiar only with the MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON/IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE/ HARVEY Jimmy Stewart, and you'd like to see him in an oater exploring the dark side, THE FAR COUNTRY is a good place to start. I recommended this one without qualifications....more info
  • Rating is for the studio's botched work
    Maybe they think that, by butchering widescreen formats, it will help to fight piracy (although I'm sure some nerds will like to pirate crap, just for the fun of it), but for me (and, I can see I'm not the only one), the only result of disrespect for original movies' format only helps in not buying until movies are released in the right screen ratio....more info
  • Jimmy Stewart heads north

    This is one of the better Westerns, but the West has shifted North, to Skagway and Dawson during the Alaskan (and Canadian) gold rush.

    Stewart drives a herd North to Seattle, and then by steamer to Alaska, where a corrupt judge, played by John McIntyre, tries to steal his herd.

    Stewart comes through, though.

    This is a Western from another generation--the "good old days." I loved them, with Gable, Stewart, Peck and the rest of the old-timers whose characters showed on their faces.

    Joseph (Joe) Pierre

    author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
    and other books

    ...more info

  • Seattle,Skagway,Dawson
    The Far Country is the most quintessential collaboration between director Anthony Mann, actor James Stewart and screenplayer Borden Chase. The movie epitomizes the western according to Mann and more precisely the fascinating possibilities offered by the Stewart persona as a rugged, selfish individualist eventually condemned by the mere force of events to stand by the new-born community.Essentially malevolent, Jeff Webster selfishness will have to come to terms with Gannon, a truculent and almost cheerful Roy Bean- liked judge tyrannicaly ruling the booming and muddy city of Skagway : John Mc Intire versus James Stewart.Only the violent death of his old ranching partner Ben (a marvellous Walter Brennan)will transform Stewart into what might be expected from a western hero.
    The magic of the film lies as much in its jubilant treatment of western situations( the stampede of Stewart's cattle out of the steamboat in Skagway, the brutal and colored atmosphere of Skagway under Gannon's heels, the crossing of the mountains en route to the gold mines of Yukon...)as in the vivid painting of characters each viewer feels like knowing.It has been said that each scene could justify a whole film, which is just partly true since the film does so perfectly well. The blend of strength, weakness, doubts...in one word ; the humanity Stewart brougth to this now legendary series of films , together with the air-capturing ability of Mann's filming put these films very high( ask Costner, Eastwood, Jarmush, Scorcese...)
    This one among the four or five best westerns of movie history.

    Bruno Parfait...more info

  • A fine Jimmy Stewart western
    The American frontier shifts north to Alaska in this tightly paced Anthony Mann western, starring Jimmy Stewart as a hard-bitten, cynical cowboy loner who finds himself caught up in the Klondike gold rush, and with it, the struggle between lawless injustice and the budding new civility. Walter Brennan gets a choice role as Stewart's stammering, old-timer sidekick; John McIntyre is delicious as the unrepentant villain, Judge Gannon of the border town called Skagway, who runs the place as his own personal company town. Stewart plays his antihero to the hilt, and the on-location cinematography is impressive... A nice, taut, enjoyable film....more info