Bend of the River (1952)

Based on a Bill Gulick novel, Bend of the River (1952) , directed by Anthony Mann, follows a former outlaw named Glyn McLyntock (James Stewart) who wants to go straight, so he becomes a trail boss and helps settlers settle in the wilds of Oregon. Along the way, Glyn saves the life of another crook named Emerson Cole (Arthur Kennedy).

Like brothers. One just laughs a lot. Too much.

They have a lot in common and seem to become as close as brothers as the wagon train makes its way to its destination. They even seem to like the same woman, Laura (Julia Adams). Laura chooses Cole.

However, Glyn and Cole have a tighter connection with each other than either has with the love interest.

The lady is underdeveloped and nearly superfluous. There is no indication as to why she likes Cole, she just kind of does. Then we find that Cole is still a crook after all and will resort to murder for money. She then switches men pretty quickly. The woman loves her bad boys.
This guy is still smiling. It's creepy.

The best dialogue of the film occurs when Cole is about to leave Glyn to die in the cold.

Cole: I’ll be seeing you, Glyn.
Glyn: You’ll be seeing me. You’ll be seeing me. Every time you bed down for the night you’ll look back in the darkness and wonder if I’m there. And some night I will be. You’ll be seeing me.

Then comes the most interesting part of the film - Glyn tracks Cole and his gang and keeps up with them on foot . The concept is so impossible and superhuman that its just plain awesome. And you don’t even see Glyn throughout the sequence. Nice.

A sneer. Much more believable on this guy.

This is Stewart’s 2nd Western directed by Mann. It’s a unique vehicle for the time considering the hero and the villain are alike but just choose different paths.

The cover of the DVD announces Rock Hudson as the 3rd star, but actually he’s a minor supporting player whose character is virtually pointless to the story. According to, Stewart was so upset when Rock Hudson received more cheering and applause at the premiere that he vowed never to talk to or work with Hudson again.

This is the film to see if you just have to watch every James Stewart western, or you like an antihero, or you enjoy gorgeous location shots.


  1. Nice review, Java! I love all the Stewart-Mann Westerns. THE FAR COUNTRY may be my favorite, but this one is excellent, too. I love how the themes of redemption and family carry through these films.

  2. Thanks, Rick29.

    This is the first of the Stewart-Mann Westerns that I remember seeing. It's definitely not a black hat-white hat Western, is it?

    I'm just now warming up to the conflicted cowboy subgenre. :)

    Thanks for stopping by.


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