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JACQUES TOURNEUR DIRECTS THE WYATT EARP FILM 'WICHITA'

Joel McCrea rides smoothly, coolly into WICHITA Year: 1955
This Jacques Tourneur's Western is as basic and entertaining as they come, centering on what begins as a distant dot viewed by men camped on the plain surrounded by cattle and all on their slow, deliberate pace to that Promised Land of WICHITA harboring many saloons...

Score for WICHITA: ****
That dot nears, and turns out being buffalo hunter Wyatt Earp, played by Joel McCrea, whose acting had improved throughout the years, his lanky build toned and muscular and a once spry face aged into raw experience, mellowing into a John Wayne meets William Holden countenance — perfectly suited for the real life legendary lawman, at first reluctant to become Wichita's Sheriff until the rowdy cowboys ignite drunken gun-blazing pandemonium.

Warner Archives DVD
It's not a perfect Western as the story is concerned, and hardly works as a genuine biopic, but it's a picture that takes many viewings to grow tired of since the formula keeps paying off with each new sequence: Like what would happen in JAWS exactly twenty-years later... the mayor and a bigwig developer forcing the new Sheriff to ignore a killer shark to keep the paying tourists happily oblivious... as is Wyatt questioned by the very men (including a mayor) who'd initially hired him after a terrific bank robbery turnaround...

Then, later, realizing the drunken cowpunchers that Earp imprisoned for goading drunkenness all keep the town in a steady flow of cash. Wielding a firm stance and lone wolf determination, McCrae turns in an apt performance eclipsing what one would expect in a 90-minute mainstream, if sometimes cliché, programmer... So it's necessary to throw in the usual faithful sidekick (a young future-famous journalist, Bat Masterson: an uncomplicated Robin to McCrea's beyond-capable Bruce Wayne) and a contrived romance with Vera Miles...

Escorting Edgar Buchanan as Doc right outta the town of WICHITA
But what's really needed for the audience flows steadily along with the action including gun-fights, horse-stomping chaos and a twist involving Peter Graves and future LARAMIE star John Smith...

Making WICHITA not only solid entertainment, but there's a subliminal lesson in the art of concise storytelling, sparse dialogue, and headstrong performances also including the other genre heavies Robert Wilke and Jack Elam plus antagonistic Lloyd Bridges along with THE MAN FROM LARAMIE friendly old guy Wallace Ford: all enveloped by tight and precise direction: You can say that the dark horse CAT PEOPLE and OUT OF THE PAST auteur Jacques Tourneur even sells-out majestically.
Joel McCrea in his third Western by Jacques Tourneur as Wyatt Earp in WICHITA
Lloyd Bridges in the standoff finale of Jacques Tourneur's WICHITA facing Wyatt Earp
Joel McCrea in Jacques Tourneur's WICHITA with Keith Larsen as Bat Masterson
Joel McCrea in Jacques Tourneur's WICHITA with fictional love interest Vera Miles
Joel McCrea in Jacques Tourneur's WICHITA with Keith Larsen as Bat Masterson
Rayford Barnes, Lloyd Bridges and Jack Elam roused by Joel McCrea in Jacques Tourneur's WICHITA
Peter Graves & John Smith (Laramie) in Jacques Tourneur's WICHITA with Charles Morton
An intense Peter Graves as Wyatt Earp's brother in Jacques Tourneur's WICHITA
Surly bad guy Loyd Bridges and cattle drive ramrod Robert J. Wilke in WICHITA
Joel McCrea and Earp brothers Peter Graves and future LARAMIE actor John Smith in WICHITA
Wide shot of the mystery man that's one of the coolest shots in Western cinema from WICHITA
Earp and brothers ride in for the kill... Specifically to kill Jack Elam... in Jacques Tourneur's WICHITA
Joel McCrea as Wyatt Earp in Jacques Tourneur's WICHITA aka Monomahia horis telos
Future PSYCHO starlet Vera Miles and former FRANKENSTEIN ingenue Mae Clarke in Wichita
Future Western directing legend Sam Peckinpah as a Bank Teller in WICHITA w/ Joel McCrea
Foreign cover with the same central artwork of Warner Bros Western WICHITA with Joel McCrea

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