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  • The film deals with the stark realities of an isolated ranching family pitting itself against the forces of nature an early winter snowstorm, and the ravages of a wild panther…

    Mitchum's character, Curt Bridges is on the hunt and also struggling to survive… If we meditate the way he measures it, we see how his mind begins more and more to wander and less and less able to focus… We see him more and more aware of pain and discomfort… His hope comes and diminishes and departs and then returns… So there's an unceasing sense of doom in those sequences that simply were hunting…

    The brothers represent different approaches by man to nature… Curt wants to dominate nature, wishes to control it… Arthur is just the opposite… He is so gentle and understanding that he can't deal with nature… He doesn't have the hardness that Curt has… And there's Harold who was the successful one because he has enough strength to deal with harshness of nature…

    The Indian is the one who believes in the cat as a myth, as a mystery and as something almost sacred… Because of the legend of the cat he has Arthur carve wooden cats out every year to avert danger…

    Now this is a very sterile family… The old man only deal with life through drink and through remembering the past… The mother is a very unlikable woman… She is manipulative, and she simply wants to be heard… You don't see any love interests or connections except for the younger brother…

    Fear is very much a part of "Track of the Cat." It is the foreboding, ever-present backdrop really to the drama…
  • "Track of the Cat" has been in limbo for years for several reasons. One, John Wayne's son, Michael, in charge of Batjac productions, refused to let it be distributed on DVD or otherwise until recently (Michael is now deceased but his widow worked out a deal with Paramount). Two, the film was not all that successful when first released. Only the drawing power of Robert Mitchum and other cast members sold what tickets were purchased by the movie goers of the day. Three, it was basically a pet project for director William A. Wellman who had fallen in love with the book by "The Ox-Bow Incident" writer, Walter Van Tilburg Clark, a few years before and had dreams of putting it on the big screen in glorious black and white color. He wished to experiment with color technique by having his cinematographer (who turned out to be William H. Clothier) use mainly black and white settings including the clothing and furnishings, with a few exceptions such as Robert Mitchum's bright red coat, the brightness of fire, etc. Producer John Wayne was so happy with Wellman's success with such box office hits as "The High and the Mighty" that he let him have his way. The result is a masterful work unlike anything else the viewer is likely to see on the big screen. The new process of Cinemascope captures the white canvas of the countryside covered with new fallen snow wondrously.

    The interior shots tend to be cramped and the dialog talky reminding the viewer of a stage play. The exterior scenes are truly magnificent and add much to the texture of the story about a dysfunctional, isolated family, the Bridges (as in bridges to cross), preyed upon by a ferocious black panther, or so the Native American hired hand, Joe Sam (Our Gang's Alfalfa), says. The panther, whatever color the viewer decides it to be, is symbolic of the turmoil and apprehension that has become part of the clan as a result of rivalry for domination within the group. The panther becomes an obsession that brings out the truth and ultimately decides the family's fate.

    Robert Mitchum, in a different type role, plays the oldest son, Curt, an egomaniac, selfish to the core, but with the heart of a coward. Still, the family looks to him for leadership. He tells everyone that he is going to put a bullet between the panther's eyes. The second son, Arthur, played with élan by William Hopper of Perry Mason fame, is kindhearted though meek, loving poetry with no desire to be a leader. He wishes to let the panther be. The youngest son, Harold, played by teen idol, Tab Hunter, is young, innocent, and in love with a neighbor, Gwen Williams (Diana Lynn), who is spending time at the Bridges' farm to be close to Harold during the inclement weather. The self-proclaimed matriarch who tries to ramrod the family with threats, guilt trips, and Bible citations, is Ma Bridges (Beulah Bondi). She has so far successfully kept her brood under her control and away from nubile bliss, including the only daughter, Grace (Teresa Wright), now a spinster. Harold threatens to tear Ma's house down by marrying Gwen whom Ma naturally despises with a determination to rid the family of this interloper and intruder. Pa Bridges (Philip Tonge) has become a drunken milquetoast and somewhat of a dirty old man, especially around Gwen, as a result of years of badgering and nagging by Ma. The story involves the two oldest sons hunting the countryside for the panther preying on their cattle. Yet the panther is the catalyst that connects the dots to reveal the truth that leads to a new beginning for the Bridges.

    The drama reminds one of an adaptation of a Eugene O'Neill play in some ways, especially the part dealing with the alcoholic father. Unfortunately, the film falters in the dramatic department yet somewhat compensates in the hunt for the panther. Though not a long film, making it at least fifteen minutes shorter with more action and less talk would have benefited the production greatly. The use of the panther as a symbol was inspired. As Joe Sam says toward the end when commenting on the color of the beast, "Black pant'er, whole world."
  • While you might think that "Track of the Cat" is a western (as it's listed as one on IMDb), it really isn't despite its setting and look. Instead, it's more of a soap opera--a saga about a family that is sick to the core.

    The film begins on a lonely ranch in the mountains--somewhere like Colorado or Wyoming about 1900. On this ranch are three brothers--Curt, Arthur and Harold (Robert Mitchum, William Hopper and Tab Hunter respectively). They live with the rest of their family--the father a spineless drunk, the mother a stern and nasty sort whose bile spreads to those around her (Beulah Bondi) and Arthur's wife (Teresa Wright). A guest (Diana Lynn) is visiting and Harold is lovestruck over her.

    The home is disrupted when a mountain lion shows up and kills some cattle. Curt is determined to kill the animal--mostly to feed his ego. Arthur accompanies him on this task. However, when Arthur goes from hunter to the hunted, the true dynamics and sickness of the family becomes apparent through the course of the rest of the film. This is NOT a normal or healthy family, that's for sure! And, you also realize that the film really is a family saga that is at heart a soap opera--not a western. Now this isn't a complaint--just an observation about the genre to which this film should be identified. The locale and the mountain lion are just plot devices--the story is really about greed, the disintegration of a family and the decay of the soul.

    The film is very strange to say the least. While Robert Mitchum is the lead, he really isn't in the film all that much and he plays a very atypical and unlikable sort. And, for the most part, the rest of them play against type as well, though Bondi did occasionally play nasty old matriarchs--and she's mighty nasty here. A particularly strange casting decision was having Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer play Joe Sam--an ancient American Indian though he was only 26 and not even remotely Indian-like under all that makeup! Add to that the beautiful full color and location shoot, it's obviously NOT a typical film but something very unique. William Wellman did a good job with this one--and the film is quite memorable, if not always pleasant! It's also one of the more unpredictable films of the era that I've ever seen, that's for sure! It's FULL of metaphorical significance and is, like some pointed out, almost like an art film--and a lot like "A Lion in Winter"! Well worth seeing but intensely strange--and a film, believe it or not, produced by John Wayne's production company! Not for everyone, but I sure appreciated and enjoy it.
  • A lot of people were disappointed by "track of the cat" .Some expected a western ,hadn't Wellmann made a masterpiece of this kind with "the ox-bow incident"?And more were disappointed by Mitchum's part.

    I do think that "track of the cat" is an underrated work;almost unique,it's very hard to compare it with another film.Roughly,it's the story a family under the thumb of a tough guy ,Curt(Mitchum) and his holier-than-thou mother(Bondi).Two members of this family are different:Curd's sister(Wright) who remained a spinster and tries to rebel against the others .She tries to make her younger brother,Harold,marry a girl ,Gwen ,who knows better :Harold is a shy sexually repressed young man who's looked upon as a sissy by Curd.

    What's really bewildering is that,after half an hour,Mitchum and the rest of the family go separate ways.He 's on the trail of a wildcat he absolutely wants to kill.While he's away,Gwen tries to urge Harold to leave home ,the unity of the family begins to fragment at the edges.

    More than the splendid landscapes where Mitchum dressed in red wanders and lights his fire with the pages of a book of Keats poems(in an almost contemporary work ,Bunuel's "la mort en ce jardin" ,they light a fire with pages of the good book after all!),Arthur's funeral is the highlight of the movie :filmed in "subjective camera" (seen ,so to speak ,thru the dead's eyes) ,it shows the living in front of the gaping hole.Editing is often wonderful and succeeds in connecting the two apparently separate stories.The mystery touch is increased by the old Indian's presence ,who seems to know all the secrets of those hostile mountains.
  • I liked "Track of the Cat" as a "psychological western" and also thought it could be produced as a stage play. The term "painter" is the way pioneers pronounced the word "panther," as I learned in my Indiana History class. The characters in the story view the cat itself as a supernatural and eternal creature that brings evil, death, and sorrow to the innocence of the valley.

    I found Joe Sam, the 100-year-old Indian portrayed by Alfalfa Switzer, interesting, mysterious, and downright spooky. Drawing on Native American wisdom and folklore, Joe Sam said the panther always came with the first snow, and he implied the panther was an evil spirit or creature that could not die. As the story progresses, the viewer develops mixed feelings about the old Indian's beliefs, as do the members of the Bridge family. Actually, there is a rational explanation for the panther's arrival in the valley: the cattle, deer, and other game had moved into the valley to search for food and water when the snowfall began. Then the panther, which preyed on such animals, followed them. The old Indian, however, expressed his belief in the panther's immortality when he claimed the "same" panther had killed his wife and daughter during a first snow many years ago.

    I believe the Indian himself symbolizes the conflicts between (1) life and death (2) the eternal and the temporal, (3) the spiritual world and the physical world, and (4) superstition and rational thought. The Bridge brothers stated the old Indian had been a survivor of a battle between settlers and Indians at least 60 years earlier and that all of the Indian's grown sons had been killed in the battle. They estimated the old Indian was at least 40 when his sons died, so that he had to be over 100 years of age. The old Indian's spryness and ability to lift bodies and heavy objects lead the viewer to believe the Indian himself is eternal.

    The tragic loss of the old Indian's family foreshadows the likelihood the Bridge family also will die out. Mrs. Bridge, the overly controlling mother, has run off all the marriage prospects her grown children have had, and the brothers fear their generation will not marry and have children. The last marriage prospect is the neighbor Gwen, in whom all the brothers have some interest. However, Mrs. Bridge has met her match as Gwen is determined to marry Harold. In the end, life and love triumph over death when Gwen and Harold decide to leave the ranch, get married, and move to Aspen, the symbol of civilization.

    Mr. Bridge, the alcoholic father, is a sympathetic and comical character throughout the film, retrieving his whiskey bottles from assorted hiding places throughout the house. From his accent I judge him to be an Irish immigrant from a large city in the U.S. Toward the end of the film, Mrs. Bridge finally admits she had persuaded her husband to move to the isolated ranch where he had felt like a "fish out of water" and had taken to drinking. In the end she does admit to being a catalyst for the dysfunction in the family and accepts Harold's wanting to get married and leave the ranch for Aspen.

    In the scene where Curt (Robert Mitchum) has the fire go out, I am reminded of "To Build a Fire" by Jack London. There is a sort of naturalism in this scene and throughout the film with its man vs. nature theme. I would recommend this film as a very different sort of western.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    William Wellman wanted to make a film out of the novel by Van Tilburg Clark promptly after reading it in 1949; the only problem was the fact, which he realized quite well, that no producer could possibly finance such film. The only thing he could do is wait, and he waited till the opportunity knocked on his door 5 years later with the enormous success of his film The High and the Mighty, which was nominated for several Oscars including third and the last nomination for Wellman himself in the Best Director category.

    Inspired by such a success, the film's main star and producer John Wayne swore that now Wellman could film whatever he'd like to, even if it would be a phone book, and that Warner would produce and distribute it. Wellman took the chance, not offering to John Wayne the phone book though, but this story, imposing his conditions, which were basically the filming of it in Cinemascope and in a black and white-colour, which meant to photograph the film with all colours reduced almost to back and white with the exception of some of the key items in the film, such as blue matches, the colour of fire, the colour of Robert Mitchum's coat etc.

    The artistic touch of the director and fabulous work of the film's cinematographer resulted in a breathtaking luminous beauty of dark and bright colours which created a visual detachment of the film from the reality, giving it a sort of mysterious aura with the accentuated feeling of threat and emptiness of the scenery which serves as a background on which the internal, almost an infernal emptiness and painful loneliness of the film's main characters are reflected, the characters who are unstoppable in their quest for the black panther, in which all of their mysteries, frustrations and secret sins are incarnated, whom we hear mentioned all the time, whose roar we hear, whose murderous trail we follow along with the film's protagonists but whom we are never really able to see and who finally appears as almost a symbolic figure-representation of the crippled internal world of the characters, which is in fact the only real palpable threat to their pitiful and fearful existence, the very thing from which Robert Mitchum's character is running away finally falling into the cold abyss of nothingness while the other characters remain in the burning fire of their troubled and aimless lives as seen from the grave point of view in the film's final sequence, which represents the unavoidable not-too-soon-to-come end for them.

    Beginning with the snow, coming through the fire, the film leaves us where it has begun – lost in an enormous threatening emptiness of the landscape still following the mysterious trail of an equally mysterious cat in the never resolved quest for outer discovery of something that has a rather inner nature. 8/10
  • We are up in the snowy mountains near Aspen, we are in the company of the brooding and feuding Bridges family. Their inner fighting is not the only thing blighting their lives, for a panther is on the loose and as it kills all in its way, it becomes evident that it's also symbolising something deep and foreboding.

    Track Of The Cat is directed by the highly accomplished William A Wellman and adapted by A.I. Bezzerides from the novel written by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. Hauntingly eerie and dripping with a sense of unease, it's however more triumphant as a technical piece than it is as a crux story driven one. Wellman had long wanted to make a colour film whilst only working from a black and white palette, he does it here and the result is fascinatingly gorgeous, helped no end by ace cinematographer William H. Clothier's CinemaScope cinematography brilliantly bringing the Mount Rainier location to life (the only way to watch this is in widescreen). All the production needed was to get snowy weather, and they got it, and then some! An interesting point of reference to the weather is that lead man Robert Mitchum (Curt Bridges) stated it was the hardest shoot he ever worked on. Some scenes are truly magnificent, atmosphere drips across the sparse snowy ground, with dark trees seemingly waiting to attack the small framed actors, a burial sequence viewed from the POV of the dead is sumptuous - in short the picture looks gorgeous, but what of the core story and acting heart?

    Frankly the story is guilty of being over talky, because as we marvel at the surrounds and buy into the sense of dread that hovers throughout, we are subjected to what can only be described as over written waffle, making me I actually wish that I had read the novel prior to viewing the film. The extensive chatter would have been easily forgivable if the pay off via the panther itself was dramatically impacting, but sadly we are robbed of a crescendo ending - something Wellman would later say was an error of judgement (he is rumoured to have even disowned the film at one point). Of the cast, Mitchum is good, moody and bully like, watch as he baits Diana Lynn (poor) as Gwen Williams, while William Hopper puts in a fine turn as Arthur Bridges. The rest? well they are solid enough, though Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer as a very aged portentous Indian raises an unintentional laugh. After plodding around like a decrepit old crippled specimen throughout the picture, he suddenly turns into an Olympic 100 meters champion at the films finale! Yes it's safe to say that Track Of The Cat is a very odd picture indeed. 6/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Almost an old dark house film set way up in Northern California, this somber drama is an analogy of good and evil, control and bitterness. The story concerns the Bridges clan, a truly unhappy family filled with resentments. Pa is a drunk; Ma is a bible thumping hypocrite. The three sons are in constant conflict, while the only daughter has become a dried up spinster. With the youngest son's fiancée visiting, resentments are at their peak. To make matters worse, an unseen wildcat has been stalking their livestock, so the two oldest sons venture out into the wilderness to kill it.

    This is not O'Neill, Inge or even updated Shakespeare, even if it seems like a filmed stage play. There is a bit of a "Petrified Forest" feeling to it with the cat taking on Bogart's role, metaphorically holding these people hostage. Carl Switzer is totally unrecognizable as the aged Indian handyman. The performances of the others range from weak (Tab Hunter) to melodramatic (Teresa Wright), with Beulah Bondi standing out as the mother with many layers to her character. As for Robert Mitchum, his imperious character is a fascinating look at a man consumed with controlling his siblings, and the lecherous look he gives Diana Lynn (as Hunter's fiancée) gives the impression that he intends to break one of the ten commandments.

    The real star of the film, however, is the beautiful Technicolor cinematography, with flashes of color appearing in the snow like a distant star in the sky. Mitchum's red coat is so blatantly blood-like it is almost a metaphor for his character. While based upon a novel, the story seems like an old melodrama from the golden age of traveling theater companies. In many ways, it reminded me of "Mourning Becomes Electra" and some recent western film noirs ("Pursued", also with Mitchum), and "The Furies" (in which Beaulah Bondi had a brief role), as well as "House of Strangers" and its 1954 remake, "Broken Lance". The mood of the film will not be for everyone, but if you follow the story closely and are not put off by its sometimes slow pacing, you may find yourself fascinated by it.
  • I've just seen "Track of the Cat" (1954) on TCM. Beulah Bondi plays Ma Bridges. Robert Mitchum is Curt. Hedda Hopper's's little boy William is Arthur. The sister, Grace, who hates Curt, is played by Teresa Wright. Gwen is portrayed by Diana Lynn. Philip Tonge is Pa. Carl Switzer is the hired-hand.

    Curt is an arrogant bully who pushes the rest of the family verbally and physically. Grace hates it that nobody stands up to him. Tab Hunter is Harold the youngest who's afraid to stand firm. He wants to marry Gwen but everybody, except brother Arthur, is against it. They don't like her. Arthur is the family peacemaker. Ma Bridges most definitely isn't sweet or kind, bitter fits. And Pa is a drunk and a womanizer. And there's the Indian hired-hand, Joe Sam, who's superstitious to a fault. Then we have the killer panther that brings sorrow to the family.

    The panther causes the ranch problems by killing cattle. That sends Curt and Arthur out after it. Arthur is killed by the cat. Curt goes on his own to stop the animal.

    Now the family is in turmoil (and always has been) and the bickering gets worse. What happens next? Does Curt make it back? How about Harold? Does he learn to stand firm where his family is concerned?

    I enjoy good westerns and Wild Bill Wellman directed this one. It's different and it's good. Give it a try!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It took me until yesterday to begin to like this movie. I could never before accept that a director who made "Yellow Sky", "The High and the Mighty", "Westward The Women" and "Beau Geste" would do what you can call a family drama with a lot of dialog, and present it as a western. When I got to about half the film in my VHS version I found it boring and gave up. I rented it yesterday in the DVD version and decided to give it another try. I loved the cinematography, all black and white with a few touches of color. You can call it the only black and white film made in color. The family drama of all those people dominated by the old mother and her son Robert Mitchum could be the material for a great film. The transformation of Tab Hunter from a man who feels owes the whole world to his brother into an independent man could have been far more dramatic. Still it is worth seeing.
  • A disturbingly dysfunctional family is at the heart of TRACK OF THE CAT, which tries to impose symbolic significance on the threat of the creature that is being stalked by the two oldest brothers. But the tale, filmed in monotonous B&W style with only highlights of real color allowed, is somber, tedious and talky.

    The performances are standard except for Mitchum who does a believable job as the loutish oldest brother. TERESA WRIGHT, DIANA LYNN and TAB HUNTER do fairly standard work, under William A. Wellman's slow-paced direction.

    It's a stark and brooding story of an isolated farm family living in a remote area and haunted by the symbolic "cat" of the title. Photographed in muted WarnerColor with effective background music by Roy Webb, its somber wintry atmosphere is well captured in the opening scene but becomes tedious before the story reaches a midway point because a real connection with the troubled characters is never really made.

    All the cast members have done better work elsewhere. It's hard to believe how matronly and severe TERESA WRIGHT became for this role, only a few years beyond her delicate work as a leading lady in many films of the '40s. WILLIAM HOPPER is effective as Mitchum's outspoken brother.

    All the interiors are filmed in a style that seems more like a filmed play than a film. BEULAH BONDI as the embittered mother manages to give some gravitas to the story. ROBERT MITCHUM gives his usual sturdy and colorful performance as the oldest son hellbent on tracking a killer cat. TAB HUNTER as the weakest younger brother has less to work with.

    A fairly interesting, harsh, character-driven tale that should have been much more effective with better dialog and family dynamics.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Brothers Robert Mitchum and Tab Hunter are living way off the beaten path and, every winter, a certain panther starts killing their livestock and is never caught. This winter will be different. I'd like to give this movie the benefit of the doubt, as to what this philosophical drama may actually be trying to say, but this is basically a major disappointment, considering the talent of its stars, including Teresa Wright, Diana Lynn, "Alfafa" (as an Indian), and Beulah Bondi, who said this was her favorite role. I can see why, as her character is more interesting and complicated than her usual kind of motherly types. But that is all really of interest. If you catch a minute of this and are transfixed by its color photography of black and white, you'll find there's not much else to really see. The dialogue is tiresome, with the characters continually saying "That if the panther is black..." "If the panther is black...." "If the panther is black..." I do give it a '4', for some reason. I guess for its stars and intriguing ending, but this is a curiosity piece at best. I will say though, that the panther may be heard, but is never seen. I think it would have been more successful had it had more obvious action with a cat you could see and less talk, and "if the panther was black.". After reading other reviews, I do agree this was more of a mood piece, which centers on Tab's character growing up and standing up for himself. But, overall, you still leave the movie feeling somewhat bemused, let down, and on the whole, dissatisfied with it. "But if the panther was black..."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This might have been an outstanding movie if Eugene O'Neill had'nt intruded. Mitchum ,as bad as the killer cat he vows to kill for the death of his brother, dominates the first part with virility and meanness. Suddenly he almost vanishes from the scene as an O'Neilesque family accusations and recriminations sequence (much too long) ensues with the usual angst, self-guilt syndrome. Meanwhile back in the beautifully photographed wild forest our hero suddenly slides down a hill into a chasm. Just like that. If the movie had spent more time on the track of the cat, it would have stayed on track and been just fine.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Robert Mitchum puts in an outstanding performance here as the mean son at the head of a dysfunctional family in a harsh snowy landscape at around the turn of the century. Mitchum's is a detailed performance worth watching very closely to observe a great actor in action.

    The film is fascinating boasting several strong characters at variance to each other, including an extrovert but unrealistic alcoholic father, a dried-up, sniping bible thumping mother and a thoughtful, kind older brother as well as Mitchum. Then there is the startling outdoors photography in the snowy mountain landscape. Mitchum remembered the film as the toughest he had ever been through. The snow is the backdrop for a panther legend believed by the old Indian help and played out for real as a panther is known to be in the area attacking the livestock. Two of the brothers try to track it down while the remaining family members in the home experience shifts in the balance of power.

    Track of the Cat is a stylised, expressionistic film that reminds of Charles Laughton's film with Robert Mitchum, The Night of the Hunter. So many of even Mitchum's best regarded films are very flawed, but Track of the Cat has many strengths not least a star on searing top form.
  • In the end of the Nineteenth Century, the dysfunctional Bridges family lives in an isolated ranch in the mountains of Aspen. The family is dominated by the beata and manipulative matriarch and the merciless arrogant middle-son Curt (Robert Mitchum); the elder son Arthur (William Hopper) and his sister Grace (Teresa Wright) are never listened; the father is an alcoholic man; and the younger son Harold (Tab Hunter) does not have personality to impose that he wants to marry with his despised girlfriend Gwen Williams (Diana Lynn). When a panther kills four bulls in the Bridges' cattle, Curt forces Arthur to track down the beast, and his brother is killed by the panther. Curt chases the deadly animal while his family argues in the ranch.

    "Track of the Cat" is a boring and unpleasant family drama despite the name of William A. Wellman in the direction. The cinematography is extremely beautiful in the snowing mountains, but I disliked all the characters, some of them for their nastiness and the others for their weakness. Further, the plot is disclosed in a very slow pace and with repetitive jokes of the father taking hidden bottle of whiskeys from the most unusual places; the result is a very disappointing movie. My vote is five.

    Title (Brazil): "Dominados pelo Terror" ("Dominated by the Terror")
  • Robert Mitchum (as Curt) stars as bullying, titular head of the arguing Bridges family, electing himself over both parents, and brothers Tab Hunter (as Hal) and William Hopper (as Arthur). In the dead of winter, the family is threatened by a marauding mountain lion; the animal must be destroyed before it eats the Bridges family. Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer (as "Chief" Joe Sam) is the Bridges' ranchhand; the mountain lion killed his entire family some years ago.

    This is an exceedingly slow-moving and pretentiously written "psychological drama". The direction (William A. Wellman ) and photography (William H. Clothier) might be its most interesting feature. The Bridges' home is decorated in blacks and whites, but shot in color; this highlights the actors' complexions, and an occasional symbolic item, like Mr. Mitchum's red jacket. Due to the "black and white in color" gimmick, or in spite of it, the film looks beautiful. But nothing can MOVE the "Track of the Cat" story, making the the film merely an interesting experiment. Beulah Bondi (as Ma) and Teresa Wright (as sister Grace) might fascinate fans. Surprisingly, Tab Hunter offers the film's leading performance; emerging as the film's focus.

    ***** Track of the Cat (11/27/54) William A. Wellman ~ Robert Mitchum, Tab Hunter, Teresa Wright, Beulah Bondi
  • Track of the Cat (1954)

    ** (out of 4)

    Strange but ultimately disappointing family drama hiding behind the Western/Adventure genres. The film tells the story of a dysfunctional family stranded on a ranch during the 1880s. The family is bullied around by the middle son (Robert Mitchum) and his mother (Beulah Bondi) but the others begin to rise up as Mitchum is out tracking a deadly mountain lion. Okay, this is a film I had been wanting to watch for many years but within twenty-minutes I knew I was in trouble and the film never picked up. I was really shocked at how boring this film was considering Wellman was directing it and apparently this was a pet project of his. I'm not sure where to start but I guess we can mention all the family drama stuff, which naturally gets blamed on a bully and a religious freak. All of the drama here lacks any real drama and in fact all the characters just come off so obnoxious that I didn't care what happened to them. Another problem is the entire "track of the cat" with Mitchum wondering around without much to do. It seems Wellman never tries to build any tension in these scenes and one has to wonder why it was even in the story. I'm going to guess the cat was used to throw out that "good vs. evil" theme but it never works. I was also pretty disappointed in Mitchum's performance, which was dry and rather dull but then again I didn't care for any of the other performances either. It was strange seeing Carl 'Alfalfa' Switzer in the role of the elderly Indian and he certainly comes off the best. What does keep the film going is its beautiful cinematography captured in all its 2.55:1 glory. The scenery is another reason to watch the film with the snow covered mountains really coming off quite beautiful.
  • Handsome, rugged Robert Mitchum creeps around this family drama as if he's ready to pounce and annihilate. Unfortunately, the film is a snowbound exercise in symbolism, an overlong, somewhat tedious one adapted from the novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. Mitchum commands attention, yet his macho swagger is used to little effect. The central focus of the proceedings is a marauding wildcat in mountain terrain, and the humans--tense, angry members of an isolated clan--who are intent on capturing the beast. The diluted colors are fascinating, but the mood is depressing and the characters a bit pretentious. A misfire from director William A. Wellman, but a curious one. ** from ****
  • Whenever William Wellman produced a picture, you can expect a deep and profound story with lots of dark sides to the characters and very unusual photography. This film takes place high in the mountains of the Northwest with plenty of snow and the peril of a panther stalking the livestock of farms. Robert Mitchum, (Curt Bridges) is the sort of head of the family and seems to have a clip on his shoulders towards most of his family. His father is an all the time Drunk who is completely worthless and his mother, (Buelah Bondi) Ma Bridges professes to be a Bible Reading Christian, but has a dark side and loves only Curt. If you like a story from 1954 with Veteran Classic actors, this is definitely the film for you.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Track of the Cat" was an ambitious effort from legendary director William Wellman who described it as a black and white film in color. And yes the scenery is gorgeous on the wide CinemaScope screen showing a snow covered scenario where the story takes place.

    A dysfunctional family lives on a remote snow-covered ranch somewhere in Colorado, we are led to believe. The family is headed by a bible thumping self serving old woman (Beulah Bondi) whose dominated husband (Philip Tonge has turned to drink, a defeated man. Their three sons, Arthur (William Hopper) is a peace loving easy going man, Curt is like his mother, is a domineering bully and young Harold (Tab Hunter) is a milquetoast who Arthur sticks up for. Also there is a spinster sister Grace (Teresa Wright) who is also dominated by her mother and Curt. House guest Gwen Williams (Diana Lynn) is seen as Harold's future wife. An old Indian Joe Sam (Carl "Alfafa" Switzer) is a ranch hand whom Curt detests.

    The animals on the ranch are restless and a prowling big cat is suspected. Curt and Arthur ride out to investigate and discover that indeed there is a large cat feeding off of their cattle. As they pursue the cat, it flees to the high country so Curt has to return to the ranch for additional supplies. While there he manages to harass Gwen and belittle Harold. Meanwhile Arthur continues the chase but is killed by the cat. When Curt returns he sends back Arthur's body on his horse leaving himself on foot.

    Back at the ranch the family is shocked by Arthur's death and arrangements are made to bury him. Curt meanwhile, continues the hunt. He sees signs of the cat but is unable to corner him. Staying out in the blowing cold he soon begins to unravel. Having lost his food and becoming increasingly nervous, he sees the beacon fire coming from the ranch and flees toward the fire but falls over a cliff to his death. At the ranch Gwen continues to prod Harold into becoming a man. Then they decide to send Harold and Joe Sam out in search of Curt and....................................................................................................

    The whole cast fit perfectly into their roles. Mitchum is totally unlikeable from his first appearance getting out of "the wrong side of the bed" to his untimely death. You have to believe that at some point he would have tried to take Gwen unto himself. Bondi is equally unlikeable as the double standard Mother. Hunter in one of his best roles, is good as the younger brother with no backbone. Diana Lynn and Teresa Wright do what they can in limited roles. Tonce as the alcoholic father gives a convincing performance as a man who has thrown in the towel. But the biggest surprise, at least to me, was ex Our Gang member Switzer in his best post Gang role as the old Indian Joe Sam. He is barely recognizable in heavy make-up. This should have lead to better roles for him but unfortunately did not. He would die tragically only a few years later.

    Wellman's decision not to show the cat only heightens the suspense. As Mitchum tracks him, we expect the cat to leap out of the bushes at any moment. And by the way was the cat a black panther or a cougar. Unless I miss the mark, panthers are not usually found in that part of the world.
  • An ambitious but ultimately unsatisfying western that is bound to irritate fans beyond measure, "Track of the Cat" (1954) is an uneasy mix of hunting-the-cat action and sub-Eugene O'Neill playwriting, complete with jarring comic relief and loquacious but indecisive moralizing. Unfortunately, the former is given the short end of the stick in this irritatingly static production which spends an undue amount of time indoors. Mitchum tries hard to hold the film together, but although he plays the main character, he has the least footage. Beulah Bondi and Philip Tonge dominate the action to such an extent, they tend to push the other players off the screen. Only Mitch can stand up to them but he disappears for long stretches. Despite her second billing, Teresa Wright is hardly in the movie at all. Diana Lynn is better served by script and director, but the best performance is delivered by Carl Switzer as an aged Indian.
  • Like that other famous film family the Corleones, the Bridges consist of three brothers and a sister all living under one roof. AFter that any resemblance just doesn't exist.

    The dominant one here is Robert Mitchum one brutish lout of a man, but someone who probably has held the family together on this ranch up in the mountain area of Colorado. It's wintertime and these people are trapped by the snows in their valley. They've also got a mountain lion who's feasting on their stock.

    William Wellman who did so fabulously by Walter Van Tilburg Clark's other novel, The Oxbow Incident, misfires with this one. It's visually stunning, the color cinematography dealing with the winter images that are black and white. The only other colors you see are the red of Mitchum's jacket and the yellow of the fire and Tab Hunter and William Hopper's hair. Oh, let's not forget the blood.

    Some really great images are in this film. My favorite is the scene of the funeral which is photographed looking up from the waiting grave. Who's funeral, you have to see the film to find out.

    I have to say though, the Bridges family after a while were just not that interesting to me. The film itself doesn't come alive. It lost money big time for Batjac productions and John Wayne and Warner Brothers.

    Still I'm sure that this film, failure though it was, led to Robert Mitchum being cast in much better films like Night of the Hunter, Cape Fear, and Home from the Hill.

    For Mitchum completists only.
  • Domineering middle child Robert Mitchum and his mother holds the rest of the family under their thumb, especially youngest child Tab Hunter, whom Mitchum takes particular delight in brow-beating. Tensions boil over on a snowy Winter, when a dangerous mountain lion descends on the valley and begins to kill livestock.

    Not an outdoor adventure, this is instead a depressing, talky frontier drama full of irritating, unsympathetic characters. There's some good performances, especially by the female cast members, though little else to offer the average film-goer looking for escapist entertainment.

    Similarly themed and much more exciting, was the low-budget 1949 film The Big Cat, directed by Phil Karlson and starring Preston Foster and Forrest Tucker. In that one you at least get to see the cat!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I found TRACK OF THE CAT to be an interesting little character tale from William A. Wellman. The setting is a ranch set in the snowy wilderness, where the inhospitability of the exterior leads to a kind of 'pressure cooker' atmosphere inside. Spearheading the production is an against-type Robert Mitchum playing a really nasty piece of work, a loud-mouthed brute and bully who spends his time browbeating his family members. What follows is slow-paced but rather engaging, with some decent plot twists taking place and lots of suspense.
  • size10011 July 2007
    I found this movie very dreary, distracting, and slow going. Don't know if this was the intent of the production team, but if it was they succeeded admirably. Basically all it was to me was the very depressing story of an annoyingly dysfunctional family with seemingly very little else to offer the world --- not the kind of neighbors I would like near my ranch. Production-wise I did like Robert Mitchum's red coat and the movie did bring out the ultimate dreariness of wide open snow country. Some people like this sort of slow going, dysfunctional-family in the movies stuff. I generally don't, especially when the movie drags on as this movie does. Never thought I would place any Robert Mitchum or Teresa Wright (despite her relatively minor role) movie on my not-to-watch-again list of older movies, but that's where this film goes. One viewing is barely tolerable, any more would be just too taxing. I guess I'm not "sophisticated" enough. It's not why I watch movies. Blah!
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