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Monday, October 20, 2014

'The Lusty Men' DVD: Old West Meets 'Peyton Place'


Lusty Men, The
The Warner Archive DVD release of "The Lusty Men" is one of at least two in a series of Archive releases that combine the Western genre with another type of film as expertly as the Mel Brooks film "Blazing Saddles" and the '60s sitcom "F Troop" blend oaters and comedy. The other Archive release of this nature is the Western-juvenile delinquent cautionary tale hybrid "The Young Guns," which Unreal TV will review in soon.

The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of a scene from "Men" PERFECTLY shows the combination of the hilariously fun-loving and HIGHLY sexist '50s and the more classic Western elements in the film.


The titular "Men" are broken-and-bruised former rodeo star Jeff McCloud and soon-to-be-up-and-coming darling of the rodeo circuit Wes Merritt. Veteran tough guy Robert Mitchum, who also stars in the recently released and reviewed Archive Blu-ray edition of "Out of the Past" wonderfully plays McCloud. The very prolific Arthur Kennedy does an equally good job as the ambitious and eager newly born star Wes. The always exceptional Susan Hayward provides one of her best performances as Wes' loving but highly concerned wife Louise, who sees the disgraced Jeff as a cautionary tale for Wes.

"Men" opens with "saddle tramp" Jeff wandering onto the spread that his family once owned and quickly befriending the Merritts. Jeff putting the prospect of Wes earning enough on the rodeo circuit for the latter to purchase said homestead soon leads to Jeff teaching Wes how to compete in said competitions.

Wes showing a natural aptitude for rodeo events leads to relative fame and fortune that in turn leads to the admiration of a lusty woman. For her part, Louise comes along to chaperone in an effort to minimize the related physical and emotional damage.

The aforementioned mix of genres relates to the soap opera style drama regarding the aforementioned impact of Wes' new vocation on Louise and the similar effect of rodeoing on the women of the men against whom Wes competes. This includes a notable scene in which one such rodeo widow dramatically disrupts a party.

The degree to which Louise will stand by (and fight for) her man and to which she and Jeff will bond further add a nice "Peyton Place" vibe to this film. They did not make many like these and do not make them anymore.

The facts that it is rare that any film has three leads who have the chemistry that Hayward, Mitchum, and Kennedy share and that blends two vastly different genres so well while also perfetly combining drama and comedy states a great deal regarding the exceptional quality of "Men."

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Men" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.