Anthony Mann’s Bend of the River (1952) is a rugged, natural beauty-loving Western, but much about the narrative doesn’t hold up.
Surely a pack of hostile men would not ride their horses into an unoccupied area with a burning campfire and thus risk an ambush from their enemies. Surely Jimmy Stewart’s cowboy would refuse the further services of scalawags who try to overturn his plans to deliver food to a settlement. And a few other befuddling things go on as well. Adapting someone’s novel, scenarist Borden Deal should have known better: The plotting makes this movie impure in a way that a Western flick like Shane is not.
Bend is a rich movie, yes, but that’s only owing to what the director, Mann, has done.