Thursday, September 4, 2014

Saddle the Wind

Saddle the Wind starts off with a menacing tone as a man rides into a town, ties his horse to the hitching rail in front of a saloon, and goes inside before it's officially open.  He orders the men there to serve him food and drink which, eventually and very reluctantly, they do.  At the end of that scene, we find out that the stranger is looking for someone named Sinclair, who owns part of a nearby valley.  Although unstated, it is clear that Sinclair is not a friend of his.

Then we see a bunch of cowboys working in a meadow and someone arrives; it turns out to be Tony (played by John Cassavetes), the younger brother of Steve Sinclair (played by Robert Taylor), and he has brought with him a girl he just met and plans to marry. Steve turns out to be an ex-gunfighter. 

In the subsequent conversation between Steve and Tony, and Steve and the girl, whose name is Joan Blake (played by Julie London), we find out something about all their backgrounds.  Joan was a singer in a saloon--she sings the eponymous song of Saddle the Wind--but she is not at all like the coincidentally-named Georgette Sinclair (Michele Lee in Bad Night in Big Butte).

As Saddle the Wind progresses, we get drawn into the family drama between Tony and Steve and the people around them who are impacted by it.  "I only wanted one thing in my life and that was to see you rise up.  You only got up as high as your gun belt.  That's a low height for a man," says Steve to Tony during an argument that exemplifies how well-acted and finely drawn the characters are.  The title of this 1958 movie makes perfect sense, too.

Other stranger soon appear in the valley; they are squatters from Pennsylvania but they have a good claim to the land.  Sparks fly and the movie gets real interesting from here on in.  There are multiple conflicts and events escalate until the surprising end to Saddle the Wind.  Aside from the rather obvious love interest, the plot is intriguing and this 84-minute movie is well worth watching.