The third collaboration of star James Stewart, writer Borden Chase, and director Anthony Mann, The Far Country (1955) features Stewart as a hard-edged cattleman turned miner who gets enmeshed in the corrupt forces threatening to take over a pioneer mining town. As far west as the Western can get, the Yukon environs of Dawson match the extremity of Stewart's loner Jeff; his close relationship with his partner Ben is the only sign of Jeff's humanity. Jeff may rethink his ways after a tragedy, but he joins the community via the disreputable avenue of revenge. Even though the community is worth saving, Chase neatly sums up the potential for venality with the observation that gold "drives a man crazy." More self-consciously stylized than Mann's other color westerns with Stewart, the film intersperses backdrops and rear projection with location shots, emphasizing the disjunction between Stewart and his surroundings, as he lives by his constant urge to move on rather than integrate himself. Although Stewart's moral redemption and relationship with a "good woman" may be schematic, the ironic, occasionally opaque dialogue injects The Far Country's action with a darkly humorous self-awareness that matches the striking yet slightly off-kilter visuals.
by Lucia Bozzola review