Review

  • Ben Johnson is mesmerizing in this picture; his natural ease with

    screen acting was well-honed by this time and he has a

    confidence, a greasy smoothness, in the part of Bob Amory that he

    hadn't displayed up to this point. Perhaps it was because he was

    working with two stellar actors from the method school that

    spurred him to give them a run for their money. Or perhaps he was

    more relaxed due to his extensive experience working in westerns

    (or because he was one of the only authentic cowboys on the set).

    Nevertheless, his contribution is equal to the leads, and far above

    everyone else. And that's so small feat. Before Kubrick had left the

    production, he obviously installed several of his favorite players:

    Slim Pickens, Tim Carey, Elisha Cook Jr in supporting roles. Each

    same part makes a significant contribution to the complexity and

    charm of the story. But Johnson rises above them all. His snake- rattling Amory is just as pathetic as he is creepy. The scene in

    which he chickens out of a gun duel with Brando is electrifying,

    mostly due to the ambiguity in Johnson's close-ups. Watching it,

    you're not quite sure if the character is too stupid to back down or

    just plain chilled to the bone with fear.