— Field Notes

Erinyes AKA The Furies

The Furies a film by Anthony Mann (1950);  Barbara Stanwyck, Walter Huston, Wendle Corey, Gilbert Roland  and others star. furies This is the work of a director that had mastered film noir and here focuses that lens onto the Western. Much of the story unfolds in a darkness or twilight. The story is filmed on location in New Mexico and the landscape is an important aspect of the plot. Anthony Mann prefered to shoot his films on location and seldom used sound stages. He believed actors were freer to inhabit the character when they were out of doors or in a real house or building.

The plot is a boiler mixing sex, money, power and  complex familial ties.  The father daughter relationship has seldom been so dramatic; the daughter  Vance (Barbara Stanwyck) and father T.C. Jeffers (Walter Huston) could be straight out of a Greek Tragedy. The threat of  violence is heavy and the indeed there is plenty for a movie made in 1950.   Vance’s relationship with a local gambler (Wendle Correy) and  Juan Herrera  her friend from childhood are complex and fraught with psychological overtones.

Juan Herrera is a particularly interesting character, he is obviously deeply in love with Vance but she is unable or unwilling to return his love because he is of Spanish descendant. Juan’s family has been on the land much longer than hers but has no legal claim. The fate of the local Hispanics is a cruel  one most are burned out of their homes or killed.

Barbara Stanwyck’s portrait of Vance is  modern, she is a strong woman who runs the ranch in her fathers absence. She is assertive in her relations with men and could be considered a proto type feminist, though she is far from perfect.  This film is close to perfect and I highly recommend it. The complex characters and the perverse plot twists make this a movie that was ahead of its time, it keeps it’s appeal  50 years later.

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