35 user 36 critic

The Lusty Men (1952)

Passed | | Action, Drama, Sport | 24 October 1952 (USA)
1:35 | Trailer
Retired rodeo champion Jeff McCloud agrees to mentor novice rodeo contestant Wes Merritt against the wishes of Merritt's wife who fears the dangers of this rough sport.


Nicholas Ray, Robert Parrish (uncredited)


Horace McCoy (written for the screen by), David Dortort (written for the screen by) | 1 more credit »





Complete credited cast:
Susan Hayward ... Louise Merritt
Robert Mitchum ... Jeff McCloud
Arthur Kennedy ... Wes Merritt
Arthur Hunnicutt ... Booker Davis
Frank Faylen ... Al Dawson
Walter Coy ... Buster Burgess
Carol Nugent ... Rusty Davis
Maria Hart ... Rosemary Maddox
Lorna Thayer ... Grace Burgess
Burt Mustin ... Jeremiah Watrus
Karen Randle ... Ginny Logan (as Karen King)
Jimmie Dodd ... Red Logan
Eleanor Todd ... Babs


When he sustains a rodeo injury, star rider Jeff McCloud returns to his hometown after many years of absence. He signs on as a hired hand with a local ranch, where he befriends fellow ranch hand Wes and his wife Louise. Wes has big dreams of owning his own little farm, and rodeo winnings could help finance it. Wes convinces Jeff to coach him in the rodeo ways, but Louise has her doubts. She doesn't want her man to end up a broken down rodeo bum like Jeff McCloud. Despite Louise's concern, the threesome hit the road in their Woody, chucking a secure present for an unknown future. Will they find success or sorrow? This picture features plenty of rodeo action and thrills. Written by Thomas McWilliams <tgm@netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A Fast Buck... A Fast Bronc... A Fast Thrill!


Action | Drama | Sport | Western


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Final credited role for Karen Randle (as Karen King). See more »


During the Tucson Rodeo sequence, bull rider [Chet?] Peterson switches hands mid-ride. See more »


Jeff McCloud: Hope's a funny thing. You can have it even when there ain't no reason for it.
See more »


Featured in Sports on the Silver Screen (1997) See more »

User Reviews

So, You Still Want to Be a Cowboy
28 November 2008 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

The movie's a real sleeper. Rodeos were never a popular theme for Hollywood, outside of Saturday matinées. Maybe that's why the studio came up with a misleading title that cheapens expectations. The movie certainly doesn't glamorize rodeo-ing. In fact, it's a pretty scathing look at both the inside and the outside. Jeff's (Mitchum) character is brilliantly conveyed early on as he drifts across the empty field along with other wind-blown discards. He's going back to his roots now that he's quit the circuit, with no other place to go.

So he hooks up with ambitious Wes (Kennedy) and his no-nonsense wife Louise (Hayward). For half of Wes's winnings, veteran rodeo-er Jeff can guide the talented newcomer as he joins the circuit. The trouble is Jeff is attracted to the loyal Louise even as Wes begins to live the fast life on his big winnings. Louise, however, only wants what she's always wanted-: a little spread of her and Wes's own where they can make a home. But Wes is forgetting those plans as he succumbs to the hard-partying of the rootless circuit. So, what will Louise do and just as importantly what will the love-lorn Jeff do now that the marrieds are growing apart.

The partying scenes are particularly well done, conveying just the right touches of cheap booze, loose women, and tall tales. Note that telling camera angle of the grizzled Booker (Hunnicutt) as he gazes up a shapely leg from floor level--- one shot can speak the proverbial volumes. Note too, the subtle way the script implies that trick-rider Rosemary has been sleeping-around, apparently an approved practice in these circles, contrary to the mores of the time (1952). Also, the shower scene when Al (Faylen) walks in is a neat bit of implied humor that depends on audience savvy for its chuckles. It's quite an intelligent screenplay, except for maybe the abrupt, but oddly satisfying, last scene.

Cult director Ray oversees with his usual artistic sensibility, though it looks like he was still suffering intermittent illness since an uncredited Robert Parrish gets a credited appearance from IMDb. And, of course, Mitchum is Mitchum, so low-key here it's hard to read his feelings at any point. No, in my little book, it's Susan Hayward's movie. By golly, she's escaped that dead-end tamale shop and nothing's going to stop her little dream. The guys may be physically tougher, but none can match her inner strength, and Hayward brings it all off in thoroughly convincing fashion. I can't conceive that the movie made money, as downbeat as it is. And I wonder what audiences lured in by the lurid title thought once they saw rodeo. Nonetheless, the film remains an outstanding example of movie-making in a minor key.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 35 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

24 October 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

This Man is Mine See more »

Filming Locations:

Phoenix, Arizona, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed