The Lusty Men (1952)
8/10
There never was a bronc that couldn't be rode, there never a cowboy that couldn't be throwed. Guys like me last forever.
11 July 2020
The Lusty Men is directed by Nicholas Ray and co-written by Horace McCoy and David Dortort from a suggested story by Claude Stanush. It stars Robert Mitchum, Susan Hayward, Arthur Kennedy, Arthur Hunnicutt, Frank Faylen and Carol Nugent. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Lee Garmes.

Retired rodeo champion Jeff McCloud (Mitchum) agrees to mentor novice rodeo contestant Wes Merritt (Kennedy) against the wishes of Merritt's wife, Louise (Hayward), who fears the dangers of this rough sport. All that and affairs of the heart start to become just as rough.

Nicholas Ray picks up a love triangle core and sets it to the backdrop of the ferocious world of Rodeo. Pic is in turn touching and realistic, bringing strong human drama and splicing it with real life rodeo action - with the bull sequences quite something to behold. Ace cinematographer Garmes ("Shanghai Express/Nightmare Alley") photographs the rodeo sequences with a beauty that still manages to exude the harsh hum-drum life of the main protagonists out on the circuit.

In reality we are following three characters on the road to destiny, actually lyrically so, this is no soap opera tale infused with action sequences. In fact location filming went out on the road to film real Rodeos (with genuine Rodeo stars strutting their stuff). This is three characters in search of an exit, a meaning in life, but naturally harsh lessons are to be learned before the day of reckoning can come.

Super perfs, direction and photography, if it wasn't for the irritatingly repetitious use of the same music each time a "contestant" leapt out the stalls, then it would be a point higher. 8/10
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