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Friday Night Movie
Dec 14, 2018 09:25 ET
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8:00 PM ET
Big Country Fridays
Man of the West (1958)

10:00 PM ET
Big Country Fridays
Man of the West (1958)

Man of the West is a 1958 American Western film starring Gary Cooper and directed by Anthony Mann, produced by Walter Mirisch and distributed by United Artists. The screenplay, written by Reginald Rose, is based on the 1955 novel The Border Jumpers, by Will C. Brown. The film co-stars Julie London, Jack Lord, Arthur O'Connell and Lee J. Cobb in supporting roles. The film is one of Cooper's final western roles.

Former outlaw Link Jones (Cooper) travels from his small town to Texas to hire their first schoolteacher. When his train stops on the way, they are set upon by armed robbers but the train escapes leaving behind Jones, the fast-talking Sam Beasley (O'Connell) and saloon singer Billie Ellis (London). They start walking and eventually reach a place that Link knows well: the farmhouse where he once lived. There he finds the men who robbed the train and also his uncle, Dock Tobin (Cobb), who wants Link to return to his old ways and re-join his gang. Link has no interest in doing so and has to find a way out for them, knowing that they will die once the gang finishes its next big job.

The film premiered in October 1, 1958. At the time of release, the film was largely panned by American critics, but it was praised by Jean-Luc Godard, who, before he became a director, was a film critic. Godard claimed that Man of the West was the best film of the year. Decades after the film's release, it has gained a cult following and greater acclaim, with film historian Phillip French claiming the film to be Anthony Mann's masterpiece, containing Cooper's finest performance.