That you’d gun down 4 men? You were sure it was them. You were hell-bent on revenge. You just knew it was them. Even though they begged and pleaded. Claimed they were innocent. Yet blinded by revenge, grief, hatred, you did it anyway.
I’d passed over The Bravados (1958) many a time because it just sounded heavy. And so it was. One of those westerns that isn’t purely for escapism but thought provoking. Jim Douglass (Gregory Peck) rides in to a village constructing some gallows for hanging 4 men. The same four men, it turns out, that Jim has been relentlessly pursuing. They murdered his wife. Those bastards. And he intends to see them pay for it. With their lives of course.
(Stop here if you don’t want spoilers)
But, they escape (with a kidnap victim) . And Jim, with the help of his former love, Josefa Velarde (Joan Collins) hunts them down once more. This time, however, he kills them one by one. They are, after all, kidnappers, villains and rapists (some of them). As he gets to his final outlaw the truth is revealed. The four men had never been to Jim‘s ranch. They just happened to be passing there at the wrong time, when Jim was blinded by events and made assumptions. And failed to see the obvious. The real killer who was never on the run. It is at this point that the heaviness of this movie really hits home. How, no matter how much we often think we know events or the truth, no matter how much someone else tells us otherwise, we act based on our opinions, often to realise too late how horribly wrong we were. When things cannot be undone.
Yes, the 4 outlaws might have been guilty of many crimes (hence the pending hanging) which, in this case weren’t for the murder of a young mother and wife, but, does it justify the revenge taken for one crime that never happened to be “transferred” to other crimes that really were committed? Jim killed the men for all the wrong reasons. It was not his justice to have. As much as the villagers thought otherwise. He knows he is now just as guilty as them. How can he live with himself? I don’t think he does but his belief system is definitely changed. And that makes him deserve a second chance at a life with his daughter and Josefa. She is the voice of reason he needs to come to terms with himself and make a new future.
Josefa raises some interesting points to ponder. About love’s chances lost. What would have been had she and Jim made it as a couple. Would everything have been different? No murder to revenge? No beautiful child? I’m always fascinated by these ideas. That life takes you on a path but would circumstances have made it any different or would the same events have happened anyway? Or, was it all how it was meant to be? That ultimately Josefa and Jim were to be together but only with the journey they had to make to get there.
Gregory Peck, as always, is absolutely convincing, and sometimes even a little scary, in this serious role. He is ruthless, cold and hard as nails. And that’s were Joan Collins balances him out perfectly. She brings a lightness along that is never undermining now is she overshadowed by Peck‘s presence. And isn’t afraid to buy him a beer.
Now, I must admit, this was the first role I’d ever seen Joan Collins in. I’d only ever heard of her or seen photos from the last 20 years or so. But never had I encountered the young beautiful actress I found in The Bravados. While her role was relatively small, I thoroughly enjoyed her and will keep an eye out for other roles.
Amazing that even one of my favourite cowboy actors Gregory Peck couldn’t initially entice me to watch this western (and you all know I’m a huge Gregory Peck and western fan). Neither could perfect villain Lee Van Cleef. But along came the Joan Collins Blogathon, hosted by Gill over at RealWeegieMidgetReviews, and I just couldn’t let her (Gill and Joan) down. So glad I finally watched it. For other entries to this wonderful Blogathon, head on over here: here