Broken Lance, Cattle baron Matt Devereaux raids a copper smelter that is polluting his water, then divides his property among his sons. Son Joe takes responsibility for the raid and gets three years in prison. Matt dies from a stroke partly caused by his rebellious sons and when Joe gets out he plans revenge.
CinemaScope western with a great cast
Broken Lance, Spencer Tracy stars in this fine western of a tough cattle baron who is not above taking the law into his own hands to deal with rustlers and trespassers. The film also dwells on the internal strife within the family as three of the rancher’s adult sons quarrel over the old man’s mistreatment of them and resent his marriage to an Indian woman. The story is told in flashback and begins with the release from prison of Robert Wagner, Tracy’s son from the union with his younger wife. The film is a quest for revenge by Wagner who blames his half brothers for Tracy’s death while he was behind bars, with Richard Widmark being the leader and instigator against Wagner. Jean Peters appears as Wagner’s love interest and Katy Jurado is Tracy’s Comanche princess. Tracy’s destruction of mining property gets him into big trouble and it is Wagner who takes the blame for Tracy and goes to prison instead of his father, which is the final break between the four brothers. The film was shot in CinemaScope and captures the beautiful expanses of the old west.
Saw Broken Lance last nite on Encore Western. It’s my second viewing. I really enjoyed Spencer Tracy and Kathy Jurado. Tracy is worth the price of admission and Jurado’s sad eyes never fail to draw me in. To those who say it’s a play on Joseph & his Brothers, I’m sorry I don’t agree. Beyond the superficial similarities, Jacob’s sons wouldn’t have dreamed of disobeying him, let alone harming him the way the Deveraux boys (Widmark, Holliman, O’Brian) do.
The film has what I believe to be the best film courtroom sequences ever, i.e. the cross-examination of Matt Deveraux.
Definitely worth seeing.
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